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Imogene is young and beautiful. She kisses like a movie star and knows everything about every film ever made. She's also dead and waiting in the Rosebud Theater for Alec Sheldon one afternoon in 1945. . . .

Arthur Roth is a lonely kid with big ideas and a gift for attracting abuse. It isn't easy to make friends when you're the only inflatable boy in town. . . .

Francis is unhappy. Francis was human once, but that was then. Now he's an eight-foot-tall locust and everyone in Calliphora will tremble when they hear him sing. . . .

John Finney is locked in a basement that's stained with the blood of half a dozen other murdered children. In the cellar with him is an antique telephone, long since disconnected, but which rings at night with calls from the dead. . . .

Topics: Ghosts, Supernatural Powers, Magic, Monsters, Murder, Spooky, Suspenseful, Short stories, and Anthology

Published: HarperCollins on Feb 3, 2009
ISBN: 9780061850493
List price: $0.99
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Some of these stories creeped me out completely. Others reminded me of the wonderment and disquieting feelings that some of Ray Bradbury's stories used to awaken in me.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This was a wonderful collection of short stories by a genuinely skilled author. Each story was beautiful in it's own right, but put together, the collection was amazing. I classified the collection as horror, however only a few of the stories felt like true horror stories. The others are much more sublte and much more difficult to put a simple tag on. This is one that will be reread several times.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Joe Hill is quickly becoming one of my new favorite writers. After reading Heart Shaped Box, I was looking forward to going back and trying some of his short stories that were compiled into 20th Century Ghosts.While mainly a horror writer, 20th Century is interesting to read because you can tell Hill was testing his writing skills using many different styles. Some of the stories are traditionally “spooky” while others are merely literary snippets.For me, two stories stand above the rest. “Better Than Home” doesn’t really offer a complete story, but I really enjoyed the characters and I’d like to see Hill bring them back in a full novel. The narrator is a highly functional autistic child and his father “deals with his issues” in a positive and nurturing manner. Hearing the story from the son’s viewpoint, some portions of the narration are well thought and meticulously described and others are manic and confused. The internal dialogue is a great mechanism for showing how an autistic mind might function. Both father and son would make great heroes in a horror novel.The second notable work was “My Father’s Mask.” With shades of Poe and Lewis Carroll, it was a psychological twister. This story is, once again, narrated by a young boy whose parents undergo a transformation while wearing masks at their weekend cabin. Their odd behavior, surreal elements and the brutal ending makes this an overall disturbing tale that’s going to stay with me for some time.If you’re interested in Joe Hill, I’d recommend that this not be your introduction as it isn’t a fair representation of the level of writing he’s doing now. However, if you’ve already decided you like his writing then this is an interesting look at how he got to where he is today.read more
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Some of these stories creeped me out completely. Others reminded me of the wonderment and disquieting feelings that some of Ray Bradbury's stories used to awaken in me.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This was a wonderful collection of short stories by a genuinely skilled author. Each story was beautiful in it's own right, but put together, the collection was amazing. I classified the collection as horror, however only a few of the stories felt like true horror stories. The others are much more sublte and much more difficult to put a simple tag on. This is one that will be reread several times.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Joe Hill is quickly becoming one of my new favorite writers. After reading Heart Shaped Box, I was looking forward to going back and trying some of his short stories that were compiled into 20th Century Ghosts.While mainly a horror writer, 20th Century is interesting to read because you can tell Hill was testing his writing skills using many different styles. Some of the stories are traditionally “spooky” while others are merely literary snippets.For me, two stories stand above the rest. “Better Than Home” doesn’t really offer a complete story, but I really enjoyed the characters and I’d like to see Hill bring them back in a full novel. The narrator is a highly functional autistic child and his father “deals with his issues” in a positive and nurturing manner. Hearing the story from the son’s viewpoint, some portions of the narration are well thought and meticulously described and others are manic and confused. The internal dialogue is a great mechanism for showing how an autistic mind might function. Both father and son would make great heroes in a horror novel.The second notable work was “My Father’s Mask.” With shades of Poe and Lewis Carroll, it was a psychological twister. This story is, once again, narrated by a young boy whose parents undergo a transformation while wearing masks at their weekend cabin. Their odd behavior, surreal elements and the brutal ending makes this an overall disturbing tale that’s going to stay with me for some time.If you’re interested in Joe Hill, I’d recommend that this not be your introduction as it isn’t a fair representation of the level of writing he’s doing now. However, if you’ve already decided you like his writing then this is an interesting look at how he got to where he is today.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Joe Hill's collection of short stories runs the gamut of both horror and fantasy. They range from the utterly horrific, such as "Best New Horror" about an editor who makes the mistake of tracking down an incredible new author to his home in order to convince him to publish more stories, or "You Will Hear the Locust Sing" which adds a horrific riff on Kafka's "Metamorphosis" when a young boy turns into an insect -- one that's still human sized and very hungry; to the downright creepy, including "The Black Phone" in which a young man is kidnapped and locked in a basement with a disconnected phone that rings at odd hours of the day, and "Last Breath" about a man who collects the dying words of people and keeps them in bottles. The horror fan in me absolutely loved these and the other creep-inducing jaunts into the darker corners of imagination. What I found surprising and quite a nice touch were a few stories that while on the surface may have touched on those dark corners, they actually carried a nice amount of sweetness and poignancy.Take the story "Pop Art", for example. When a young boy is severely picked on for being inflatable rather than flesh and blood, another outcast sticks up for him, forging a unique friendship that the author Joe Hill uses to delve into how people react to differences in others. In "20th Century Ghost", a woman who haunts a movie theater shows the owner and others who've seen her what love and caring are all about. And in one of my favorite stories -- "Bobby Conroy Comes Back from the Dead" -- two people find love in the midst of filming a zombie movie.The stories collected in "20th Century Ghosts" are all wonderfully crafted tales, filled with delight, terror, creepiness, gore, and love. A highly recommended read.
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A friend who knows I like short stories gave me this collection as a gift. In the short format, my favorites are mysteries - not so much the ghost stories. But I gave it a shot and was completely blown away. They're so good! They're not ghost stories, really; they're wonderfully creative and moving stories by a talented writer. "Pop Art" is one of the most original stories I've read in years, and the whole collection is outstanding. And Hill's range is impressive - though there is an element of the odd or ghoulish throughout "20th Century Ghosts," one story is simply set on the movie set of a horror movie and there's nothing macabre about it - it's just a well-written story about people and relationships; an Alice Munro fan would appreciate it. Joe Hill is a gifted writer and storyteller and I'm excited to see what comes from him next.
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I had no idea that Joe Hill was Stephen King's son until after I read Heart-Shaped Box; even though I didn't know that, his style reminded me so much of King's that I made a note of it in my reading journal. This book is no exception; in fact, I think I see more of King's influence in this book than in HSB.That isn't to say that Joe Hill isn't his own writer, because it's obvious that he is. He tends to be more "grounded" than his father in his short stories; although he does stray into complete fantasy-land a few times ("Pop Art" being my favorite of that genre in this book), many of his stories at least seem somewhat feasible.The book itself is a bibliophile's dream; cloth-bound with a haunting photograph on the front, it draws the reader in from the start. If you can push past the first two stories (which I think were some of the weakest in the collection), you're in for a treat.
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