SCARY STOCK­ING STUFFERS

Geist - - Endnotes - —Jill Man­drake

Ghost story afi­ciona­dos will ap­pre­ci­ate a new se­ries called Christ­mas Ghost Sto­ries (Bi­b­lioa­sis), se­lected and il­lus­trated by Seth. Seth is one of Canada’s most spell­bind­ing artists, and his retro graph­ics blend seam­lessly with th­ese se­lected tales. (Note: for cur­rent in­for­ma­tion on Seth’s work, please re­fer to the lat­est is­sue of Devil’s Ar­ti­san (#78), for the es­say “Head­ing to Palookav­ille: Seth and the Art of Graphic Au­to­bi­og­ra­phy,” by Tom Smart, cu­ra­tor of the Peel Art Gallery.) The five ini­tial of­fer­ings in Christ­mas Ghost Sto­ries are en­dur­ing ex­am­ples of the clas­sic English-lan­guage short story: “The Sig­nal­man” (1866) by Charles Dick­ens, “Af­ter­ward” (1910) by Edith Whar­ton, “The Di­ary of Mr. Poyn­ter” (1919) by M.R. James, “One Who Saw” (1931) by A.M. Bur­rage and “The Crown Derby Plate” (1931) by El­iz­a­beth Bowen. There are also plans to pub­lish more re­cent au­thors in fu­ture vol­umes, such as Robert Aick­man and Shirley Jack­son, two writ­ers whose legacy of other-worldly vi­sion is un­par­al­leled. As the cover blurb ex­plains: “Read­ing a ghost story on Christ­mas Eve was once as much a part of tra­di­tional Christ­mas cel­e­bra­tions as turkey, eggnog, and Santa Claus.” I was aware of this only from many sea­sons of hear­ing Andy Wil­liams lift his vel­vety voice to “It’s the Most Won­der­ful Time of the Year”; as you may re­call, the bridge goes, “There’ll be scary ghost sto­ries / And tales of the glo­ries / Of Christ­mases long, long ago...” The most phan­tas­mal of th­ese first five sto­ries is Edith Whar­ton’s “Af­ter­ward”; the most chill­ing book cover is “The Crown Derby Plate.” Don’t take my word for it; have a look at th­ese dur­ing some ap­pro­pri­ately shad­ow­driven, mist-filled evening. Hope­fully this se­ries can re­vive some of the shar­ing and in­ter­ac­tiv­ity that we’ve all but lost in the dig­i­tal era.

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