Autumn Ghost Stories

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Fall Equinox may be a few weeks away, but once my birthday arrives in late August (and perhaps as a consequence of receiving school supplies for presents as a child along with my many years of teaching), it’s a signal that the summer is officially over; and with it the end of trash reading (at least for awhile). Sandy beaches are a bit overrated, and I prefer them in the cold weather anyway.  I don’t do much lounging by the proverbial pool these days either, but I have been hiking once a week. Yesterday was truly glorious.

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It will only get better as the temperature drops and the leaves turn brown—all that stuff that feeds my Gothic soul! Continue reading “Autumn Ghost Stories”

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The Castle of Otranto

fuselinightmare

Faint of heart…

Continuing with my Gothic Literature Reading Challenge 2017, I head for the granddaddy of Gothic literature The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (try to say it fast).  After reading some of the Goodreads reviews, I expected this to be a real chore, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this (gratefully) brief, at times silly tale. It helped that I found this beautiful Easton Press leather bound copy in my personal library. The moiré endpaper, satin book mark, color plates, and gold embossed leather cover enhanced my reading experience of this classic. Continue reading “The Castle of Otranto”

Ghost Story by Peter Straub

The morning after I finished reading Ghost Story, I found myself strolling along the misty riverbank of my own small town, whispering this Edward Gorey limerick:

Each night father fills me with dread/When he sits on the foot of my bed;/I’d not mind that he speaks/In gibbers and squeaks,/But for seventeen years he’s been dead.

This novel sent a ghostly chill up my spine that lingered for days. It starts with a challenge:

“What is the worst thing you’ve ever done?”

The reader asks him or herself that question, perhaps unconsciously for the answer is buried deep. It varies from person to person, from casual lies and gossip that have brought others harm to horrendous acts, such as murder. Its abeyance is the cause for a lot of denial (and drinking) for many of us, and the novel addresses that. But when we’re asleep and open to the dark truths we hope to keep buried, our sins/our ghosts seep in like foul-smelling green mist, shape-shifting but always there, pursuing us, cornering us, and ultimately scaring us to death. Continue reading “Ghost Story by Peter Straub”

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