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review 2018-07-10 03:26
Ghostland - where we all live
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places - Colin Dickey

Disclosure:  I accessed this book through my local public library's digital collection.  I do not know the author nor have I ever communicated with him about this book or any other matter.  I am an author of romance fiction and assorted non-fiction.

 

 

I truly enjoyed this book, and found the author's perspective both interesting and ultimately respectful of believers and skeptics alike.

 

It would be impossible, of course, for a single volume to catalogue all the thousands, perhaps millions, of alleged hauntings in this country.  Dickey can probably be accused with some justification of cherry-picking the examples he used to best illustrate his theories: among them that whether ghosts -- as the more or less embodied spirits of the dead -- are real or not, we need them.  And so we would have created them anyway even if they weren't real.

 

The aspect of the book that fascinated me the most was the way he deconstructed some of the most well-known and even well-documented hauntings, as evidence that it's in the creation of a ghostly narrative that fits what we collectively as a culture want the haunting to be that it comes alive, pun of course intended.

 

Because I'm not a fan of horror fiction -- it's all I can do to get through the least horrific Lovecraft for Halloween Bingo -- I can't say if the creation of a fictional haunting narrative follows that theory.  I do, however, think it applies to the gothic romance.  The haunting, the ghostly presence, has to integrate with the living characters in an organic way for the two stories to work with each other.

 

Recommended!

 

 

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text 2018-07-09 22:05
Reading progress update: I've read 253 out of 401 pages.
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places - Colin Dickey

This is proving to be one of those books that brings together a lot of old friends.  There are references to James W. Loewen and Frederic Jameson and Walter Benjamin.

 

Loewen, of course, is contemporary and accessible.  I can't recommend enough his Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lies Across America.

 

Jameson is less accessible, but then he is a theorist more than a commentator, imho.

 

Even before Dickey mentioned Walter Benjamin, I distinctly felt his influence -- his spirit? -- from The Arcades Project, a good portion of which I read in grad school.  I still have his Reflections, one of the texts for that particular (and particularly annoying) class, because the texts were far better than the instructor.  (Yes, I'm lookin' at you, Arthur Sabatini.)

 

I've reached the part in Ghostland that deals with haunted cities, and it's almost impossible not to have a slideshow of abandoned Detroit buildings running through my imagination.

 

 

 

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text 2018-07-08 18:22
Reading progress update: I've read 136 out of 401 pages.
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places - Colin Dickey

Pages read are based on digital edition accessed via the public library.

 

When Obsidian Blue reviewed this last year, I was very much intrigued and put it on my mental list of books to track down.  Imagine my delight on finding it in he library's digital collection.  It was while trying to access Ghostland that I screwed up and ended up reading another couple chapters of that silly Breaking the Rules, but once I got into Ghostland, I was pretty well hooked.

 

My own current work in progress involves an allegedly haunted house, so Ghostland is sort of research.  Ah, if only all research could be this enjoyable!

 

As I prepared to post this status report, I read through all the reviews here on BookLikes, just to get a feeling for how other people reacted.

 

Even though I've had my own experiences with the strange and unexplainable, I tend to be more of a skeptic than a believer when it comes to ghosts and so on.  I'd like to believe, but I'm too rational and logical.

 

So I'm finding Colin Dickey's attitude less offensive than other reviewers have.  In fact, I'm finding it refreshing.

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review 2018-07-02 13:27
Every Love Story is a Ghost Story - DT Max on David Foster Wallace
Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace - D.T. Max

I liked this well enough, but there's a reason I've not read it until now. Something to do with never get too close to your (literary or otherwise) heros...

 

 

The interesting parts are about the inner workings of his writing. I'd have rated it much higher if it was just that. I do wish a psychiatrist or other professional would've been included in this book. It's one thing to look at the literary part of DFW's life, but this crossed so far into mental illness, because it had to, that I would've appreciated little things like not using the word "manic" in a colloquial way for a person who is clinically depressed. More than that, I'd have appreciated seeing everything discussed through a good professionally-adept lens.

 

I was sold on the literary theory b/c I don't know much about literary theory. I was not sold much at all on the psychological guesswork included as fact.

 

Despite that, this is a carefully and exhaustively researched book though, and I did appreciate the lack of judgment and straight reporting on facts, or as he notes in the afterward, the closest he could get to the facts as he understood them.

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review 2018-06-02 20:53
The Tutor: A Ghost Story - Rod A. Galindo

It is important to note two things. One, this is a short story that is advertisement for a collection of short stories about the title character. So the book is about half short story, and then you get teasers. Now, this is fine. I didn't pay for it; it was a kindle freebie and I have no problem with free kindle books, in particular books that make it clear that it is a short read, as a teaser for a long work. The short story is short, but complete, so there is no cliffhanger.

It isn't the scariest ghost story I've read, but it's not the worse one. The two central characters are well drawn, and it does work with the intended young audience interms of content. I'm not sure I would recommend it to adults, but say readers around 10-13.

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