“West,” Speedy said. “From this ocean to the other.”

Peter Straub, another excellent writer of sometimes horror, is a longtime friend of Stephen King. In The Talisman, they collaborated on a horror-fantasy epic, sometimes writing together, writing other parts alone, imitating each other’s styles and creating a book that feels as if one person had created it. Not only that, it’s a captivating, strange and often beautiful story. Many have tried to guess who wrote which parts, but Straub has made it clear in his postings to alt.books.peter-straub that, with perhaps one example, they’re wrong. And that’s how it should be, for after all: It is the tale, not he who tells it.