Monday, October 27, 2008

Getting lost in October Country

{Photo by rocketlass.}

Every October, I do my best to spend at least some time reading stories of ghosts, haints, fetches, ghouls, and other unpleasant manifestations. This October has, sadly, found me too busy to get very far in that project, so that all I have to share right now is a bit from a letter from Penelope Fitzgerald to her editor Mandy Kirkby of May 19, 1995, collected in the wonderful So I Have Thought of You: The Letters of Penelope Fitzgerald:
The ghost at the Southwold-Walberswick crossing is said to be a mother waiting for her child who was supposed to be coming back on the last ferry. The white dog, which I have actually seen, was something to do with Dunwich, I think, and the poltergeist was horrid.
This is one of those occasions that makes one wish that collections of letters as a matter of course incorporated both sides of the correspondence. What did Kirkby ask to elicit this response? Readers of Fitzgerald's The Bookshop will recognize the poltergeist (and not be surprised that the ghost in the novel, convincingly eerie, was drawn from life), while the ferry ghost seems pretty straightforward--but what was the white dog? And what were the circumstances of Fitzgerald's sighting of it? I've written before about a certain matter-of-factness the English seem to bring to relations the appearance of the presumably ghostly, and this seems a perfect example.

But for those intrepid readers who are not English, and who refuse to simply accept intrusions from the unlikely spirit world as commonplace, that little taste of ghostliness will surely not be enough. Fortunately, prompted by Maud Newton, James Hynes has put together a list of ten great scary stories at his blog. The ones I already know are frightening and uncanny enough that later this week I'll be making the effort to seek out the rest.

And if that list doesn't include enough scares for you, you're welcome to dip into the I've Been Reading Lately archives and enjoy my numerous ghost-and-goblin posts from last October. Or you can simply reflect at length on various Sarah Palin-as-President scenarios . . .

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