Dark as a Dungeon was written by the author in the mid-1960s. Themes of drugs, phallic worship and sado-masochism were common in all his works, but Dark As A Dungeon was one of his strongest examples of phallic extremes and torture. Peter himself had a reputation for being extraordinarily well endowed. We believe that Shorty McCool, the first person narrator with the impossibly large penis, is an extension of Peter’s psyche. Shorty’s extraordinary tastes and dangerous desires, as well as his ultimate desire for a loving mate may well reflect the desires of the author himself.
Dark As A Dungeon was one of Peter Schute’s few attempts at telling a story in the first person in lieu of an omniscient narrator. He described the challenge of telling Shorty’s story in his own words. “…the paucity of vocabulary of an 8th grade-educated Kentucky coal miner proved too difficult to overcome. I created an epilogue that gave Shorty a belated college medical education so he could ‘use big words’ and ‘describe what went where.’ I then went back and rewrote the entire story with a richer vocabulary and very little Southern jargon.” Peter later said in an interview in After Dark magazine that he felt most comfortable using dialogue to give his characters voices reflecting their background and intelligence level, while allowing the narrator to give information in an intelligent, neutral voice. Peter was a master of grammar and form. The reader should pay close attention to the shift in narrative voice that occurs in Chapter Two the moment Shorty snorts the powdered diet pills. The past tense becomes the present progressive tense for the duration of the chapter.