So, for the second year in a row, I’m looking back this TBT to 2019’s “On Ghost Stories,” a post that now will hold the distinction of being a perennial favorite.
One might think that as scary as the real world is, we’d spend less time reading spooky fiction. It seems the opposite is the case. Perhaps the idea that malevolence is not necessarily the result of human frailty, but rather due to wicked supernatural influences, is oddly comforting. That evil is the result of our fallen nature—and, of course, the malignant supernatural influence up on it—is a bit easier to forget, perhaps, when reading about some ghostly figure wreaking havoc in the English countryside.
More likely, it’s just that we enjoy being scared—when we can easily flip off the television or close the book. Horror is fun when there are no real consequences attached to it. Then again, just watching horror movies probably isn’t healthy (I’ll report back if I suddenly get any macabre urges).
Well, whatever the reason, a good ghost story is hard to pass up. With that, here is “TBT: On Ghost Stories“:
At one point or another we’ve all experienced the situation where we’ve seen or heard some new idea, word, or concept, and suddenly, we see it everywhere. When I bought my car in 2020, I suddenly began seeing Nissan Versa Notes constantly.
Well, it was fun while it lasted—another Spring Break is in the books. I enjoyed this brief respite, the eye in the middle of the storm that is the Spring Semester. The next couple of weeks will be a flurry of activity for yours portly, followed by the long, graceful descent into summer vacation.
Like last year, I’ll be recapping the short stories I recommended this past week, and offer up a short ranking of them. The list will be shorter by two this year, as I dedicated last Monday to a movie review and did not reblog an earlier short story review Thursday.
“Spring Break Short Story Recommendations 2021, Part III: “Out of the Deep” – This tale was an excessively wordy, psychological ghost story. It admirably confuses the reader with its unreliable narrator and the weird visions of its protagonist, Jimmy (who is fairly unlikable), but part of the confusion comes from the authors overwrought writing. Still, if you can wade through the dense swamp of the prose, it’s an interesting little tale.
“Recommendation” is perhaps a strong word for this story, which is, at times, excessively wordy and confusing—and that’s coming from me!
“Ghost story” is also, perhaps, a bit of a misnomer, though there does appear to be at least one—and possibly three—apparitions in the story, although that’s never made entirely clear.
It’s the wordiness and lack of clarity, though, that paradoxically make the story interesting. Walter de la Mare was a poet, and brings something of poetry’s attention to the consonance of words. At least, I’d like to think that’s what he is going for here; he clearly enjoys playing with language, almost the way a punster does. It makes for tedious reading at times, but does have the effect of keeping the reader guessing as to what is really happening.
But I digress. The real “ghosts” are the ones haunting the protagonist, Jimmy, a listless young man who has taken possession of his late uncle’s rambling London townhouse. Jimmy apparently has no occupation, and lives by selling off the sumptuous possessions his aunt and uncle left behind. Jimmy is also something of an eccentric insomniac, who finds it difficult to sleep unless bathed in candlelight (at least once in the story he sells some household items so he can purchase candles).Read More »
Today is the 99th edition of Lazy Sunday; it is also my birthday. I’m getting to that age where my birthday is still enjoyable, but also serves as a reminder that I’m on the wrong side of my thirties, slipping towards forty ever-faster.
It’s also that point in my life that I’m becoming more aware of my own mortality. Youthfulness compensated for poor dietary choices and succulent overeating in fifteen years ago; now, I’m feeling more and more the ravages of delicious indiscretions. I also find I don’t sleep as well (usually) as I once did, and I will ache in places that never bothered me before.
That said, I’m still fairly spry, and while my on-stage antics might not be nearly as acrobatic as they were in my twenties, I still manage to huff and puff my way around a stage—and onto coffee tables, if need be. Anything to entertain the crowd.
With that, I thought I’d celebrate Lazy Sunday and my birthday with some of my personal favorite posts:
“On Ghost Stories” (and “TBT: On Ghost Stories“) – Not surprisingly, I also love ghost stories. Indeed, the expiring Christmas season was, for the Victorians, a prime time for ghostly tales. The ancient bonds of memory and tradition that flow through Christmas make it the perfect time to contemplate our heritage—and the ghosts that haunt it.
“SubscribeStar Saturday: The Lost Art of Letter Writing” and “Update on Letter Writing” – I’ve discovered a new hobby, letter writing, and I’m hoping to do some small part to revive the practice. To date I’ve written around twenty-five or -six letters over the past three weeks—including one to a dog!—and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m planning on writing many more in 2021, and hope you, too, will join in on the fun and write letters to your friends and loved ones (or request one from me!).
Regular readers will know that I love Halloween. Indeed, I use the entire month of October as an excuse to revel in the fun of the season (instead of covering the election, the point of a blog ostensibly dedicated to commenting upon and analyzing politics).
So I thought this Sunday—the Sunday before All Hallows’ Eve—would be the perfect opportunity to look back at some spooky Halloween hijinks:
“Halloween Week!” – This short post was one of my many paeans to Halloween. It details South Carolina’s unfortunately hot and humid Halloweens—quite different from the crisp, autumnal Halloweens popular depictions of the holiday always portray. I’m praying for a chill in the air this year!
“On Ghost Stories” & “TBT: On Ghost Stories” – This post briefly discusses the importance of ghost stories, and why they’re so delightfully fun. Victorians used to read ghost stories around Christmas, so I’m thinking we should just dedicate the last three months of the year to reading them.
“Happy Halloween!” – THE post on Halloween! I showed off some pictures of the pumpkin I carved (the featured image for this post). As soon as I’m done with this post, I’m going to do this year’s carvings, so I’d better wrap it up!
“Monsters” – … right after one more post. This little piece looked at some previews of essays about monsters and the monstrous. I also discuss the possibility of cryptids (like Bigfoot), and why God’s Creation is so limitless and interesting, it’s entirely possible such creatures could exist.
That’s it. Now get your costumes, grab some spooky stories and movies, and get ready for HALLOWEEN!
Ah, well. That’s just nit-picking. Here’s what I wrote about this past week:
“Soda City Market” – This post was a review of my excursion Saturday to the Soda City Market, a weekly farmers’ and arts and crafts market in Columbia, South Carolina. I was surprised by the popularity of this post. I guess people like reading about festivals!
“Morning Movie Review: Brazil (1985)” – This post was my review of the dystopian dark comedy Brazil. I loved this film; my only regret is that I didn’t watch it again before my RedBox rental period expired. It’s one of the best films I’ve seen lately that depicts a “dystopian” near-future, mainly because, for all it’s absurdity, it’s the most plausible depiction of actual reality.
I won’t do much more editorializing than that, as the original post is quite lengthy and detailed. I will add that I love short stories, and find the form chillingly effective for horror. The brevity and concision of the form encourages horror writers to deliver chills and terror straightaway, and allows for frights to be the focus.