Modern Ghost Stories

Richard Dalby, Editor
Richard Dalby, Editor Carroll & Graf Publishers $20 (0p) ISBN 978-0-88184-864-9
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-7867-0089-9
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This second volume in a series is mis-titled: only a few of the 27 women whose work appears here can be described as eminent (at least half, in fact, are unknowns, at least on this side of the Atlantic), and the dominant tone of these stories is musty and Edwardian rather than ``modern.'' Moreover, the authors (with the exception of the expatriate Edith Wharton) are all British, and are prone to writing with that jaunty, class-obsessed sentimentalism that anyone but heavy-duty Anglophiles will find cloying. There are some fine entries: ``Mare Amore,'' by Margery Lawrence, in which the spirit of the sea pursues a couple into the English countryside; Eleanor Smith's ``Whittington's Cat,'' which features a reclusive young man haunted by a demonic six-foot-long tabby; and especially A. S. Byatt's claustrophobic ``The July Ghost'' and Wharton's dreamlike ``Afterward.'' Most selections, however, are formulaic haunted-house yarns, and a few are astonishingly bad. Notwithstanding the scattered jewels and an intelligent introduction by Sara Maitland, who tries hard to find feminist subtexts in these pieces, this is a disappointing collection. ( (Nov.)
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