Halloween Edition: Ghosts Who Read Succeed!

ghosts_that_still_walkAmerican Libraries has a nice round up of haunted libraries, including this tidbit:

“The local-history room of the New Hanover County Public Library (NHCPL) in Wilmington, North Carolina, harbors the ghost of a patron who frequented the library conducting Civil War research.

Former local-history librarian Beverly Tetterton insisted that some mornings she had found files spread out on a reading-room table when she is certain she had put everything away the night before. Sometimes people report the sounds on pages turning—subtle rustling noises that a “librarian would recognize as the sounds of doing research.”

abbotsfordShe often would find one book, The Papers of Zebulon Baird Vance, left out on the table. Tetterton said that once a 10-year-old boy came into the room to investigate the ghost. “I gave him the book to look at. Later, he walked up and said, ‘Do you think this has anything to do with it?’ Inside this book was an envelope addressed to the person that I thought might be the ghost. I have been through that book hundreds of times and never saw that envelope. I could feel my hair standing straight up.”

There is also a library that takes such pride in its paranormal activity that it’s set up webcams so you can take photos for yourself.

And for some ghostly, and wonderful sounds, check out the first part of Gloria Coates, Symphony No. 1, “Music on Open Strings”: I. Theme and Transformation, a suitably ghostly dance for a Halloween night. Happy trick or treating! We’re curling up with John Carpenter’s Classic Fright Flick, Halloween.

Spooky Words (and Sounds) Day 4

M_R_JAMESFor today, the last ghost story for this Halloween, M.R. James’ “The Mezzotint,” a “prints and photographs” chiller (which I think Rod Serling’s Night Gallery riffed on.)

Monte James‘ elegant ghost stories were influenced by his day job as an archivist and a medievalist. They often have books or historical artifacts that turn out to be sinister, and his tone manages to combine the cozy and genuinely creepy. The central object in “The Mezzotint” betrays a story of a long-ago crime via the form of a seemingly innocuous print of a country house.

A taste:

“It was by this time rather late in the evening, and the visitors were on the move. After they went Williams was obliged to write a letter or two and clear up some odd bits of work. At last, some time past midnight, he was disposed to turn in, and he put out his lamp after lighting his bedroom candle. The picture lay face upwards on the table where the last man who looked at it had put it, and it caught his eye as he turned the lamp down. What he saw made him very nearly drop the candle on the floor, and he declares now that if he had been left in the dark at that moment…”

 

 

And for a bit of bewitching music, here is Liszt in a Mephistophelean and melancholy mode:

First Boris Berezovsky in Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz #1.

(With a camera person who was asleep at the wheel in the last moments, or perhaps so dazzled by the virtuosity that he forgot to get the Boris’ bow in frame?)

and Lang Lang playing the Liszt “Romance”

His performance is lovely, the video production is overwrought, and yet Liszt would likely have loved it.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Words: Neil Gaiman and Penguin

Looking for a way to ring in this ancient Celtic holiday?

Author Neil Gaiman is aiming to inspire an annual tradition–give somebody a scary book to read every Halloween, and Penguin has a page with clips of Philip Pullman reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales and their backlist of spooky stuff and horror (offered at a discount and including lots of tried and true chillers, Shirley Jackson, Poe, Mary Shelly, and Patrick Suskind’s extraordinary Perfume, a hell of a read).