Joe Hill’s Ghosts

I’m in a bit of a daze right now.

It’s a familiar feeling, a heat that suffuses my body, a euphoria that shakes me to the core: everything around me seems insubstantial, ephemeral, and unreal. I’m still in the book, see, still locked in that other place, and its hooks are sunk too deep. I keep spacing out. My head is full of Joe Hill’s ghosts. I just stood outside the office building for half an hour, reading the last few pages, unable to stop – unwilling – hating every last second in the race to the end because I knew it would come to a stop.

Except it didn’t.

The best stories never do. They stay with you, fragments of discarded dreams, memories, characters and ideas lodged forever in your head. I feel jittery and strange, like I’m on the brink of something, it’s the start of a football match, the last shot in a game of tennis, the first kiss in a night full of fucking; I feel like I should be jumping up and down, not sitting still, so obscenely still while my mind’s racing so goddamn fast. Not that I could catch it even if I were trying.

So, to clue you in, I just finished Joe Hill’s short story collection, 20th Century Ghosts. It was simply phenomenal. There’s no other way to put it, actually, scratch that, there’s a thousand ways you could put it: it’s beautiful, magical, wonderful, terrifying, funny, weird, transcendent, moving, dark, sublime. It’s everything I could ever want it to be and then some. At its heart, I feel like this collection is a love letter (well, series of) to Horror as a genre, as a concept. We see old horror, new horror, B-horror, and worst of all, quiet, domestic horror – the ugly darkness of human nature, exposed. It’s less an examination of the things we fear and more an investigation into personal responses to fucking awful events and this is why it’s so successful. Joe Hill makes it personal. He makes you care, even as he’s slowly sinking the knife in. Continue reading