Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It was a dark and stormy night. . .

With a nip in the air and the daylight hours shrinking, I've lately been drawn to Ghost Stories. This delightful hardcover anthology has been my bus reading for the last little while. Published by Everyman, the book has all their usual high production standards (creamy, acid-free paper, lovely font and that elegant ribbon bookmark) but they've shrunk the size to just a little bigger than an average mass market. This makes it perfect to carry around in a purse - I can even slip it into the inside pocket of my jean jacket.
The stories are varied and alternatively scary and humourous. It starts off with Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Body Snatchers" about a medical student in charge of procuring specimens for dissection, and includes other classics such as Guy de Maupassant's "The Horla" and W.W. Jacobs' "The Monkey's Paw". And I never get tired of re-reading Katherine Mansfield who is represented here with "The Daughters of the Late Colonel" a story so desperately sad and yet so uncomfortably funny. Some wonderful new discoveries have been L.P. Hartley's "W.S", Eudora Welty's "Clytie", P.G. Wodehouse's "Honeysuckle Cottage" and Ray Bradbury's "Another Fine Mess". M.R. James' "Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad" will having you looking at your bedsheets in a different way and also has my favourite opening paragraph:

'I suppose you will be getting away pretty soon, now Full term is over, Professor,' said a person not in the story to the Professor of Ontography, soon after they had sat down next to each other at a feast in the hospitable hall of St. James's College.

I think I'm in love with the short story again - I can't wait for January when Everyman's Pocket Classics (this new, smaller hardback format) publishes Love Stories.

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