Started my reading for the RIP Challenge with Virginia Woolf’s A Haunted House. As this was only 3 pages (and my other selections had not yet arrived from Amazon) and a long holiday weekend, I culled my book stacks for other RIP candidates.
Turned out to be a grumpy weekend of reading. I guess I’ll have to call myself the Persnickety Kitten this week. Anyway, here goes…
Murders in the Rue Morgue, Edgar Allen Poe. I assumed I’ve read this at some point, but couldn’t recall so I dusted off a copy of Poe’s short works and gave it a whirl. What a disappointment. A ridiculous ending, even accounting for the fact that it was the first of the detective genre. I’ll be interested in what other readers have to say, see if I can muster some appreciation for it at that point. But for me, Cask of Amontillado is a better story by far.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Shirley Jackson. Though Jackson’s writing is, as always, fine, I really disliked living with the crazy narrator, plus I figured out whodunit early on. Had to force myself through it. And the ending went way over the top. I revisited The Haunting of Hill House, which is at least spookier (though oddly dated).
That leaves us with: A Haunted House, Virginia Woolf. A mere 3 pages, but the clear winner for weekend number 1. Not sure it really qualifies as a short story (sketch? vignette? pastiche?), but this of all this weekend’s RIP readings offered up genuine atmosphere, provocative thoughts and complex texture. The stream of consciousness writing gives an idea of why the living fear ghosts — They embody our regret for, longing of and reconnection to the past:
Death was the glass; death was between us; coming to the woman first, hundreds of years ago, leaving the house, sealing all the windows; the rooms were darkened. He left it, left her, went North, went East, saw the stars turned in the Southern sky; sought the house, found it dropped beneath the Downs.
Here’s hoping that James, Irving or Wharton arrive at my doorstep by Friday!