Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Friday, January 11, 2013

20th Century Ghosts (2005)

Author: Joe Hill | Page Count: 304

“You know someone for a while and then one day a hole opens underneath them, and they fall out of your world.”

20th Century Ghosts was billed as a horror collection even before the truth of Joe Hill's lineage was revealed. However, not a collection of spooky tales as much as a book of stories, some of which might scare you. Several of the stories fall short of their potential, and a few are simply lackluster, but the ones that shine are so good they make the whole book worth reading.

The best of the bunch is Pop Art, a story about the friendship between an ordinary boy and an inflatable one.    There's so much about the story that could be problematic - the obvious metaphors or the strange premise it asks you to swallow - but it's incredibly effecting from start to finish. I knew I was going to love this story before I finished the first page, and I was in tears by the time it ended. It's among the greatest shorts I've read in years, and I can recommend the collection on the strength of this story alone.

Also impressive is My Father's Mask. The tale it tells is vague enough that it can be frustrating, but it's all the creepier for it. As I read it, Lynch-esque imagery popped into my brain, and it left me feeling both haunted and fascinated long after I'd put the book aside. This story isn't as satisfying as Pop Art, but it's both chilling and intriguing, which is a potent combination.

The rest of the stories offer enough variety to keep the interest of most readers. The titular tale does indeed involve ghosts, but is more of a love story than a scream fest. Stories like The Black Phone and Abraham's Boys have a cinematic thriller quality that help pick up the pace after slower moving tales, and the final stories wind things down nicely. Whether you're a fan of Stephen King's short stories or you just appreciate a good short in general, 20th Century Ghosts is a book worth reading.

4 dead girls who love movies out of 5

1 comment:

cuckoo77 said...


"Pop Art".

That and a few others, for some reason, I always wanted to illustrate.