In THE NEW YORK TIMES Book Review, an essay by Parul Sehgal was published
The topic is appropriate for Halloween: Why the ghost story
persists. I found a lot of thoughtful comments and information in this piece
and recommend it.
Sehgal observes: “Literature — the top-shelf, award-winning stuff — is positively ectoplasmic these days, crawling with hauntings, haints and wraiths of every stripe and disposition.” I myself have found much more of a demand for stories with a supernatural edge than those set in the verisimilitude of reality. Maybe people are looking for psychological escapes from the real world more than ever.
Many of the classics of literature such as Henry James’ “Turn of the Screw” or Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” provide us with eerie ghost stories. Today’s ghost stories vary. They may be written in the classic mold or entirely unique. They may reflect our modern society or hearken back to the past. Sehgal observes: “ghost stories are never just reflections. They are social critiques…”
He further observes that ghosts in the modern American novel protest the norms of social injustice. I don’t entirely agree with his statement.
However, in my novel DARK MOON RISING, there are two ghosts, women from two different centuries who haunt the family home of the men who wronged them. These ghosts seek justice via revenge.
Some of my ghost stories have been published in various anthologies and magazines. The ghosts remain earthbound because of unfinished business in their lives.
Sehgal comments that ghost stories are often drenched in sex and violence. But obviously that is not the only thing that makes them appealing to readers. I think that one strong appeal of ghost stories is the suggestion that there is life after death. What is your opinion? Also, are there any ghost stories that particularly have appeal to you?