Tuesday, August 10, 2010

20th Century Ghosts, Ghosts of Belfast, Aeneid

I had a whole list of reasons why I didn't like Ghosts of Belfast, even though the writing is great on a technical level.  But life's just too short.  I'd rather write about books that I like, or at least made me think more.  (Maybe I'd like Ghosts more I were Irish)

Joe Hill's 20th Century Ghosts, for instance, was a book that I liked and that made me think.  Hill's known mostly as a horror writer, and this collection made me wonder how he came by that reputation.  No more than half of these stories fall into the straight-forward horror genre, and they're not all the best ones.  I'm not going to do a blow-by-blow of the stories, but a few that really stood out were
  • "Pop Art" is about an inflatable balloon boy.  Very straightforward for such an outre premise, this was a great exploration of friendship and alienation
  • "My Father's Mask" was the most surreal story in the collection.  Very disquieting, even as it's hard to say precisely what it was about.  The outline isn't hard to understand, but the details seem just out of reach, as if we could understand them with just a little more insight...
  • "Voluntary Commital" is a kind of horror story I usually find annoying, where you never find out what the scary thing is or whether there even is one.  But it was very effective here
In other news, I've run across a great explanation of how Vergil plays with the rhythms of Latin stresses  against the longs and shorts of the Greek dactylic hexameter, and I've been inspired to start reading the Aeneid again.  It's a great experience, showing how important the auditory aspect is to Roman poetry.

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