Spring Break Short Story Recommendations 2021, Part III: “Out of the Deep”

Rounding out this week’s Spring Break Short Story Recommendations is Walter de la Mare‘s 1923 psychological ghost story “Out of the Deep.”  This story is the second in Chilling Ghost Stories, edited by Stefan Dziemianowicz.

“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 »