Book: 20th Century Ghosts

"20th Century Ghosts"

The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past…

I picked this book up because I thoroughly enjoyed NOS4A2 and Horns, and I realized: I still have yet to pick up any other Joe Hill books. So when I saw a copy of this anthology at Forbidden Planet while on the lookout for something to read during my almost twenty-hour flight back home… Well, I just had to pick it up, right?

Now, here’s the thing: Joe Hill writes horror stories. And although I love reading and writing horror stories… I kind of scare easy. And when you’re thousands of feet up in the air, reading an anthology of scary stories is the last thing you want to do.

Except– It’s not really an anthology of scary stories. It’s a collection of horrifying tales, yes. And sure, one of them gave me nightmares (My Father’s Mask)– But, take the 20th Century Ghost story for example. It wasn’t written to strike fear into readers’ hearts, but it was written with a lot of heart. And you have got to read the story in the Acknowledgments section.

Then there’s The Widow’s Breakfast that gives you just the right amount of goosebumps, and there’s The Cape that does horrify readers for a different reason. But some stories, like You Will Hear The Locust Sing, that made me scratch my head. (Although, I confess, I’ve never been a fan of films like The Fly, so I might not be the intended audience for this particular story).

It’s an eclectic collection. Each story will strike a different chord of thrill or fear in your spine. If it doesn’t, it’s probably busy plucking at the strings of your heart. But at the end of it all, it turns out that 20th Century Ghosts isn’t really an anthology of horror stories. Just stories that are supposed to horrify.

And I could’ve survived reading it up in the air with no fear of goblins appearing on the wings of the plane.

If you’re not familiar with Joe Hill or his works yet, I suggest you don’t acquaint yourself with his works through this collection first. Read one of his novels and then find your way back to this anthology instead.


2 thoughts on “Book: 20th Century Ghosts

  1. Hehe, baliktad tayo. I started with 20th Century Ghosts. And yeah, the mix was quite eclectic. For “You Will Hear the Locust Sing,” aside from The Fly, further reference can also be found in Kafka’s famous short story “Metamorphosis.”

    My favorite piece from the collection is “Pop Art.” Holy shiznit I love the last statement. Not scary, but all heart.

    I’ve yet to read NOS4A2 but Ahj loves the book so much.

    His first novel, The Heart-Shaped Box is… okay.

    • Hmm. I’ll try to reread “You Will Hear the Locust Sing” with Kafka in mind– See if that changes my perception. 🙂

      I agree with your assessment of “Pop Art.” It’s good. But I might have a bias for movie theaters, hence my preference for “20th Century Ghost.”

      Do read NOS4A2. It’s… spine-tingling.

      And I really have to find The Heart-Shaped Box. Haha. Just so I could see for myself what the… lack of hype is about. 😀

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