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If You Could See Me Now
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If You Could See Me Now

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  1,481 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
One summer night, a boy and his beautiful cousin plunge naked into the moonlit waters of a rural quarry. Twenty years later, the boy, now grown, flees the wreckage of his life and returns to Arden, Wisconsin, in search of everything he has lost.

But for Miles Teagarden, the landscape he had known so well has turned eerie and threatening. And the love he shared has become v
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 5th 2000 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 1977)
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The Shining by Stephen KingThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley JacksonA Christmas Carol by Charles DickensGhost Story by Peter StraubHeart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Ghost Stories
1,029 books — 1,571 voters
1984 by George OrwellDracula by Bram StokerAmerican Gods by Neil GaimanThe Complete Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan PoeFrankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Quality Dark Fiction
1,671 books — 1,954 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Edward Lorn
Apr 30, 2015 Edward Lorn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one... yet
I'm so goddamned confused. I've reread the last ten pages three times now and I still have no clue what the fuck happened there at the end. I'm pretty sure this book's ending is a disaster. Several things make absolutely zero sense, but ONLY because of the last few pages.

(view spoiler)
Feb 02, 2016 Bandit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good, very good, dangerously close to great. This was by far the best Straub book I've read. For some reason when a lot of the popular genre authors started out back in the 70s, they had the ability to tell a coherent compelling story in 300 to 400 pages easily. With years came verbosity, which isn't always welcome, at least for me. I appreciate concision and compactness, I think it may even take a greater skill to execute. Anyway...back to the book. Originally written in 1977 (the nice trade pa ...more
Oct 21, 2011 Maciek rated it really liked it
This is quite an improvement from Julia, which was Straub's first novel of the supernatural. For my taste, Julia relied too much on gothic tropes and was uncannily similar to Rosemary's Baby to truly stand own on its own merit. In If You Could See Me Now Straub has improved his style and found a voice of his own, with which he estabilishes atmosphere of subtle dread and a creepy, eerie mood.

At heart, it's a simple tale. At the age of 13, Miles Teagarden made a pact with his cousin, Alison Greeni
Nov 05, 2011 Nigel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Peter Straub's second foray into the horror genre, and i find it odd that I haven't read it, being such a big fan of his stuff when I was a teenager. Nowadays I prefer his later books, the Blue Rose trilogy and The Hellfire Club, big, chunky literate and literary thrillers with no supernatural element. Oddly enough, this book anticipates the move from horror to thriller in a few different ways, and even retains a certain amount of ambiguity about the ghost story element, up to a particular point ...more
David Jordan
Apr 16, 2011 David Jordan rated it it was ok
Picked up a 30-year-old paperback copy of this ghost story at a library used-book sale and read most of it during a three-day trip to Los Angeles. It’s that kind of book. Straub managed huge sales and a movie adaptation with his next novel, “Ghost Story,” but he must have improved as a writer by then, as “If You Could See Me” suffers from stereotyped characters, mangled metaphysics and prose varying from choppy to purple. The Wisconsin setting initially intrigued me because I once lived in Madis ...more
Kevin Lucia
Sep 15, 2015 Kevin Lucia rated it it was amazing
A pleasure, as always. Straub's stories never fail to be psychologically intricate, tense, disquieting, and yet satisfying at the same time.
Jan 18, 2011 Linda rated it really liked it
Shelves: paranormal
Peter Straub wrote If You Could See Me Now early in his career, spinning out an eerie, haunting tale of obsession and vengeance. The book opens with a vignette describing an erotic encounter between thirteen year old Miles Teagarden and his provocative cousin Alison, who seduces him into skinny dipping in a disused quarry. Twenty years later, college professor Miles convinces himself that he's returning to his boyhood home in the midwest to write a book in a quiet, peaceful place. That bit of se ...more
Horace Derwent
May 25, 2016 Horace Derwent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
like sk's carrie, it's a milestone of american horror letters

like a weird poetry from a weirder omnibus from his mind
Nov 16, 2011 Sloane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
One of my absolute favorite books!! This book was so chilling that when I finished it around 3am (because I couldn't put it down!) I had to leave the lights on to fall asleep.
May 29, 2015 Audra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Hey, if they’ll publish it more than once, it’s gotta be good, right? This 1977 book was just re-released and I was sufficiently intrigued by the premise, Mr. King’s quote, and the wildly variant reviews on Goodreads to give it a try.

First, I’d like to take a look at the re-designed cover. Not that this has any bearing on the content of the book itself, but I do think it’s interesting to see how changing audiences and reception of certain genres affects the way a book looks. Cuz I definitely ju
The Basics

Miles hasn’t been back to the family farm in Arden, Wisconsin in twenty years. He left behind a reputation as a troublemaker, but he feels Arden is the place to be no matter how the locals hate him. Because he has to keep a promise he made all those years ago.

My Thoughts

Let’s start with Miles. He is the main focus and our narrator, and he shapes everything we see. To the point that I wonder if he is even remotely reliable. There’s a moment around the halfway point that will have you qu
May 19, 2014 Karo'Line rated it it was ok
This was very difficult to get through. From the moment I started reading it, I found it akin to walking through mud. Very thick, sticky mud. With heavy shoes and thick socks, all covered and stinking with mud. Not a pleasant experience. My problem isn't so much with the *way* it is written - Peter Straub is actually quite a good writer, in terms of style. He does know something about *putting* a story together - it is just the actual plot of the story itself, and the characters that I couldn't ...more
Apr 26, 2015 Timo rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: timo
Ei ensimmäinen lukemani Straubini enkä muistakaan miehen kirjoista ole pitänyt mutta ajattelin vieläkin antaa mahdollisuuden. Parempi mieli olisi ollut, jos en olisi antanut. Toisaalta, silloin olisi ollut näivertävä mieli, että pitäisikö antaa toinen mahdollisuus.
Sekava ja tylsä ja junnaava. Ei tästä mitään hyvää sanottavaa ole.
Mar 07, 2011 Debra marked it as to-read
Stephen King recommended author and book.

Book noted as "important to the genre we have been discussing" from Danse Macabre, published in 1981. Author discussed in chapter 9.
Deze houd ik maar voor bekeken. Ik zit zo'n 75 pagina's ver en het verhaal doet me nog steeds niets, geen spanning, geen voeling met de personages. Ik hoef hier niet te weten hoe het verder gaat.
Jammer, maar genoeg andere boeken die me wel interesseren denk ik maar.
Sep 09, 2014 Jeremy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-this-year
A strange mix of mystery and American gothic that I found hard to continue to read. It is very much of it time which was not all bad but the protagonist did not grab me enough to keep me interested. The first chapter was gripping but I found it hard to slog the rest of the way through.
Timothy Culp
Mar 08, 2012 Timothy Culp rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
My first and favorite Straub novel. I liked the slow reveal.
Sep 15, 2012 Fishface rated it liked it
I started out loving this one, and somehow the buildup didn't lead to anything at all.
Feb 20, 2014 Dustin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"If you forget, I'll come after you. If you forget, God help you." - Alison Greening

On July 21, 1955 in the town of Arden, 13-year-old Miles Teagarden makes a pact with his over-sexed and mysterious 14-year-old cousin, Alison Greening,that they will return in 20 years time and meet again. 20 years later, a grown up, troubled Miles returns to the town of Arden to keep his promise, never able to get Alison Greening off his mind, his life is in shambles. The only thing he has left is that promise,
Cody Lakin
Mar 16, 2015 Cody Lakin rated it liked it
Peter Straub was one of those writers who wasn't necessarily a master at his genre when he first started out, but If You Could See Me Now, his second novel, shows signs of his development--an improvement from his first novel, Julia--and overall, it's a pretty good, but for me, it was little more than that.

The title itself, I think, is promising enough, and in a way wished that this book lived up more to the title, and the tone that it implies. The story's premise is great: as a pre-teen, the mai
Sheryl Dunn
Jan 16, 2013 Sheryl Dunn rated it liked it
I read this just after reading Julia, and I have to admit the narrator is unstable point of view was a bit frustrating. The storyline and writing are well done just some minor complaints.

Again this book was published in 1975 or so, so there are some... out of date turns of phrase and notions in the book.
p.40 he uses "sexually normal" (hinting that the character he's talking about isn't = gay) so that wasn't cool. Later he mentions something about a small town not thinking someone being gay is ac
An Redman
More like a 3.75 rating. The reason I went with three stars as opposed to 4 is because I don't think I would recommend this book to many people, just friends I think could appreciate the oddness of it.

I detested the first fifty or sixty pages but then I started to enjoy it, I started to look forward to reading it and read large chunks long after I should of been asleep.

It was written in 1977 (or at least published then) but it isn't littered with easy slang and cultural references that necessari
Johnny Andrews
Beautifully written that will keep you intrigued even at a slow strolling pace. Not that it's dull, it just takes you to the end at its own leisurely pace. In 1955 in a small farming town a young promiscuous girl is killed, the blame, whether by accident or purpose fell to her slightly younger cousin Miles however he was found unconscious and with no proof, plus his age he moved on but his heart was still with Alison and the vow they made that fateful night to return twenty years from then.
Now M
Mar 21, 2016 Joshua rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bleak and dismal, with a pervading sense of hopelessness, anxiety and disoriented instability. A mounting feeling of unease that eventually reveals itself to be terror. With each page turned, one is more and more confused about just who...or be afraid of. But the fear is still there. Perhaps even moreso for the puzzlement surrounding it.

Blurring many lines between crime fiction and Gothic horror, IYCSMN is ultimately a terribly, tragically human story about the irrepressible intrusion
Shawn Leslie Dixon
Jan 12, 2015 Shawn Leslie Dixon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Freaky awesomeness in a wicked little package.
Start to finish I was pulled left, right, up and down. Sure I had my suspicions, but I did not see that ending. Fan-fucking-tastic final chapter.
This thing is a heart thumping ride all over over the map, yet localized to a backwater village full of weary locals and paranoid officials. There are things that the hero did that begged answers, but it all came back to mental instability... to a point of course. The finale made peace for anything feeling
Adam Nelson
I wasn't exactly on the edge of my seat like I wanted to be (or like Steve King, who wrote a rave on the back, wanted me to be). I could hardly see how the ending was grand guignol. Yes, a bit of gore, and I suppose in the moment it could be shocking, but this just wasn't Straub's strongest work. I'm still a big Ghost Story and Shadowlands fan, mainly because the protagonists in those works were likeable. Sure, Miles Teagarden didn't necessarily have all of the townsfolk's abuse coming his way, ...more
Nov 07, 2014 Sigour rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Although I've read this a long (very long) time ago (up to 14 years, is that possible?) I still can feel some things those book made me feel back then. It was the first book that actually made me feel uneasy and a bit of fear (back then I ate every terror film that could fall into my hands, so it wasn't so easy to scare me).

I like the scenario, the images... I could even feel the smell of cold water from by bed... And whenever I hear 'Ella baila sola' it gives me the creeps (I've read the book w
Marc Pressley
Aug 25, 2015 Marc Pressley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Interesting, quick read. Up until the last 40 pages or so, I really wasn't sure what the resolution would be. Straub, as usual, maintains a consistently edgy mood throughout the work. The protagonist, Miles, isn't the most likable character I've ever read, but still is capable of eliciting sympathy. The story itself is more streamlined than Straub's more famous follow-up, Ghost Story, but you can see the same themes at work on a smaller scale. And yes, sometimes Straub's prose can get a little p ...more
David Jeffers
Nov 04, 2012 David Jeffers rated it really liked it
Wasn't sure what to do with this at first. Took me awhile to finish, but wow. The narrator seems distant at first, but you come to see things in a very different light as you go along. Loved that. Peter Straub is a strange one for me. He's a great writer, I think, and I want to love all his work equally. But I don't. This one, however, is pretty high up on the list, and I thought it was very well done.
Jan 11, 2011 Murtle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ghost lovers,mystery lovers,small town folk,
The whole middle, practically the whole book is a carbonated beverage getting ready to pop. Miles just keeps going about Alison's return that when she does return, it feels as if there was more, but that there more didn't come. The twist is okay, but overall it is a book to read when there is nothing else better to read.
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Peter Straub was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 2 March, 1943, the first of three sons of a salesman and a nurse. The salesman wanted him to become an athlete, the nurse thought he would do well as either a doctor or a Lutheran minister, but all he wanted to do was to learn to read.

When kindergarten turned out to be a stupefyingly banal disappointment devoted to cutting animal shapes out of heavy
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