Monday, September 15, 2008

SHORT STORY MONDAY: High Spirits by Robertson Davies

Last year for the RIP II challenge, I was reading the most excellent Stephen King collection, Everything's Eventual. I recently went back and reread those reviews, which I posted a few for every Short Story Monday. It was fun to do and fun to reread about the stories. For a few reasons, this book was chosen:

Earlier this year, Nicola reviewed this Robertson Davies book of ghost stories, and I noted it as a terrific book to read for this year's RIP. Davies is also Canadian and he went on quite a run at John Mutford's Great Wednesday Compare. How could so many people be raving about his books and I've never read anything of his, and barely heard of him? And then, the last piece to this synchronicity explosion: bybee changed her literary fanboy crush from Nick Hornby to Robertson Davies. This was huge. And I just found out that it is Short Story September. So now the stage is finally set to read a Robertson Davies short story book of ghost stories.

"How the High Spirits Came About" Davies explains that these ghost stories came about during his years at Massey college in Toronto. Every year at Christmas he would tell a ghost story. The college was famous for having a ghost in living there, and Davies tried to pay homage with his stories to some famous scary stories. It helped to know that these were meant to be read aloud.

"Revelation From a Smokey Fire" The narrator is in his study and the fire is smoking too much. Suddenly someone appears, another Master of the College from the past, or is it? This was very cute and funny.

"The Ghost Who Vanished By Degrees" A scholar who failed his PhD thesis and then killed himself, comes back and insists on trying again. For the PhD, not the suicide.

"The Great Queen is Amused" A spell accidentally brings some dead characters alive, including a number of Canadian authors. I didn't recognize many of them, but I did notice Susanna Moody, she probalby wasn't fun to talk to. The spell came from an Aleister Crowleymagic book. Now that name rings bells, but I am blaming Stephen King, or maybe it's from Good Omens?

....more next week...

I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!-- Dr. Seuss


  1. The book sounds interesting! I love Robertson Davies but I haven't read him in awhile.

    Aleister Crowley. Stephen King and Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett were probably influenced by him.

  2. I haven't heard of Davies before either, but sounds like I need to keep my radar up if he influenced Terry Pratchett, whom I love.

  3. Forgot to mention that I love that Dr. Seuss quote - "My troubles are going to have troubles with me." I need that tatooed on the inside of my forehead.


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