Christmas comes but once a year and it seems like a good time to send a shiver down one’s spine. The Guardian and its Sunday sister paper, the Observer, have joined in with the BBC in giving us some ghost stories.
The pieces have a way of making the reader very uneasy in a strange sense, even if they are not overtly horrific. The unease is probably a personal thing, everyone will find something slightly different for each reading.
This morning’s Observer has a short story by Penelope Lively called “Stairs“. Currently in the news not only for her new book, Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time, but also Hermione Lee’s acclaimed biography of her, Lively’s story has a domesticity that revolves on something quite empty.
Yesterday they published short stories by Ned Beaumont, Jeanette Winterson and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The one that really got me was Winterson’s story, a more traditional one of an old house and forgotten crime that came back to haunt the present. Beaumont’s story, centring on a piece of art that haunted its creators, was technically very good but it felt cold; as if it is an exercise. I felt the same about his novel, The Teleportation Accident as well. Looking back on it, the Adiche story didn’t really leave much impression on me but that is probably more my taste or experience than her writing.