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20th CENTURY GHOSTS


By Joe Hill

William Morrow/Imprint of Harper Collins Publishing, 2007 ($24.95)
ISBN-10: 0061147974
ISBN-13: 978-0061147975

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

20th CENTURY GHOSTS, which has only a couple of actual ghosts, is nevertheless a fine book of short stories by Joe Hill, son of the master of horror, Stephen King. Joe has his fatherís talent, but his own unique style, more subtle and less gory than that of King and other horror writers, with more than a touch of fantasy. Many of his stories feature young or teenage boys as protagonists, and there are a couple of father/son tales. I liked most of the stories, although sometimes the ending was so subtle I wasnít sure what really happened, or didnít happen. My favorites: Pop Art is the sad but whimsical story of a boy and his inflatable best friend. You Will Hear the Locust Sing is a Kafka-esque portrayal of a boy who eats bugs to show off for his friends. He goes through some changes and gets everybodyís attention. Abrahamís Boys is the story of a Dutch immigrant, Dr. Van Helsing, and his two sons who are reluctant to go into the family business, which involves garlic and wooden stakes. Dead Wood informs us that itís not just humans who can be ghosts. Bobby Conrad Comes Back From the Dead finds two high school sweethearts meeting years later while acting in a George Romero horror flick. George, a friend of the family, makes a cameo appearance in this one.

Mr. Hillís short stories have been published in this and other genres. His first novel, HEART-SHAPED BOX, won critical acclaim. I expect this one will do so as well.

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