For Valentine’s day, I got the missing piece to a collection that I hadn’t even realized I had started – all of Joe Hill’s published works. The missing piece to this…shall we call happy but accidental collection, was “20th Century Ghosts.”
Like his father, Stephen King, Joe Hill is often categorized as a horror writer. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of what he writes is downright creepy. “Heart Shaped Box” not only kept me up wondering what would happen to its main characters, it also gave me terrifying nightmares of deadly hypnotizing ghosts.
I don’t know how I would classify “20th Century Ghosts.” This book of short stories does have horror type stories – the first one in particular is the most typical of the genre. But it also has stories about families, friends, murder, bugs, and some that are just strange.
Out of the collection of stories, I think my favorites are “20th Century Ghost” and “Pop Art,” which are less scary and more sweet.
“20th Century Ghost” is about an old man who runs a movie theater that is haunted by a ghost of a teenage girl…who happens to be a movie buff and a somewhat chatty one at that.
“Pop Art” is a story about a young boy and his best friend…who happens to be inflatable. And before you ask, no – not that kind of doll. But, as you can imagine, it would be hazardous to live as an inflatable person…so many things could be the end of you, including a vicious dog named Happy. It was a touching piece, and it is from this story that I’ll choose my quote for the book –
“It is my belief that, as a rule, creatures of Happy’s ilk – I am thinking here of canines and men both – more often run free than live caged, and it is in fact a world of mud and feces they desire, a world with no Art in it, or anyone like him, a place where there is no talk of books or God or the worlds beyond this world, a place where the only communication is the hysterical barking of starving and hate-filled dogs.” – Joe Hill, “20th Century Ghosts”
I loved this book and I loved the dedication page of the novel (as I am and will always be a hopeless romantic, even if lately I’ve been doing a good job of pretending not to be), which reads: “To Leanora: We are my favorite story.” Oh Joe Hill, you fabulous, romantic bastard…who also happens to write excellent novels, short stories, and graphic novels. <Sigh> Can’t say I’d mind a dedication like that to me.
Five out of five stars.