Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Big Book of Ghost Stories by Otto Penzler

The Big Book of Ghost StoriesThe Big Book of Ghost Stories by Otto Penzler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a treat for myself after getting a free lance writing job. I read the entire book over a long period of time by opening it at random to one of these short stories. There are classics (The Monkey's Paw; Oh, Whistle and I'll Come to You My Lad) and stories from much more modern authors like Donald Westlake, Isaac Asimov, Chet Williamson, and Andrew Klavan. There are so many stories in this "big book" that it took me some time to finish, especially at the meandering, leisurely pace I favor for short story collections. I really enjoyed it because I rarely came across a story I didn't like. I also really enjoyed Otto Penzler's introduction to each of the authors. He gave a good idea of what their overall work was like without giving away the story itself.

My only quarrel is with the categories in the table of contents that tend to give away the surprise for too many of the stories simply by playing on the twist. That actually was the reason for just opening the book and reading the story I found there so that I kept the element of surprise as long as the author's skill allowed.

Kudos to the publisher, Black Lizard, for their production values ... the cover is not only atmospheric because of the vintage image, it is also sturdy. The paper for the pages is lower quality, as one would expect, but the binding is such that you can tell it will hold together no matter how many times that book flops open. The binding also allows the book to lie flat on a surface which is a definite advantage considering the size. And the print is a pleasing size, not the gigantic type which too many modern publishers use to either pad out pages or pander to older eyes.

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