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20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill


20th Century Ghosts is really a misleading title. With a title like that the reader expects more supernatural, less science fiction/fantasy, more ghosts, less...weird inflatable people? This collection of short stories written by Joe Hill (also the author of a novel, Heart Shaped Box) run the gamut from horror, science fiction, fantasy to ghost story.

Normally I do not read science fiction/fantasy. Normally I do not read short story collections either, and when I do, it doesn't last long. I read a short story here, skip a few that bore me, read another, and then decide the book isn't worth my time, so I ditch it and move onto the next thing--another novel.

Over the years, actually throughout my college years through one assignment or another, I've been forced to analyze what I read and why I read what I read, and this has recently lead me to think a lot about why I don't read what I don't read. The list of what I don't read or at least the things that I never seem to finish reading when I start them include non-fiction (I've decided this is most likely because with non-fiction, you pretty much already know how it will end, and depending upon the subject, it will end badly) and short stories or short story collections. I'm still trying to figure out why I can never finish short story collections.

This was one collection that I actually read the whole way through--every story--and I don't know why when I didn't really enjoy it. I guess I thought I would eventually get to the story that would make the whole book worth reading for me except I never really got to that story. In the end I've come to the conclusion that the reason I didn't really like this collection of short stories is because I didn't really get the 'point' of most of the stories. Maybe I read them too quickly and I should have instead read them slowly while reflecting upon their meaning. Maybe I felt cheated because a proper explanation or resolution of events and/or characters in most of the stories was not provided. Maybe this is why I do not read science fiction and fantasy. Ultimately, if you are a huge fan of science fiction/horror/fantasy, you will enjoy these stories. Otherwise, you might not enjoy this book.
This book is available upon request from Annville Free Library.
--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

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