Panama (spwebdesign) wrote,

Book 32 (from 2011)

  1. Portis, Charles — True Grit (215 pages)
  2. Simpson, Joe — Touching the Void (210 pages)
  3. Bardin, John Franklin — The Last of Philip Banter (207 pages)
  4. Millar, Martin — The Good Fairies of New York (278 pages)
  5. Millar, Mark — Kick-Ass (190 pages)
  6. Sachar, Louis — Holes (225 pages)
  7. Baxter, Stephen — Moonseed (523 pages)
  8. Buchan, John — The Thirty-Nine Steps (152 pages)
  9. Bukowski, Charles — Post Office (167 pages)
  10. Palahniuk, Chuck — Fight Club (211 pages)
  11. Bemelmans, Ludwig — Madeline's Rescue (50 pages)
  12. Rennison, Nick — Bloomsbury Good Reading Guide, Eighth Edition (508 pages)
  13. Rucka, Greg & Steve Lieber — Whiteout (120 pages)
  14. Rucka, Greg & Steve Lieber — Whiteout: Melt (106 pages)
  15. Orwell, George — Homage to Catalonia (267 pages)
  16. Moore, Brian — Catholics (87 pages)
  17. Chatwin, Bruce — The Songlines (296 pages)
  18. Funke, Cornelia — Inkheart (555 pages)
  19. Eddison, E.R. — The Worm Ouroboros (521 pages)
  20. Milligan, Spike — Puckoon (152 pages)
  21. Jones, Diana Wynne — Power of Three (293 pages)
  22. Juster, Norton — The Phantom Tollbooth (264 pages)
  23. Jeffreys, Daniel — America's Back Porch (286 pages)
  24. Robinson, Marilynne — Housekeeping (217 pages)
  25. Stevenson, Robert Louis — Treasure Island (212 pages)
  26. Bissinger, Buzz — 3 Nights in August (296 pages)
  27. Rennison, Nick & Ed Wood — 100 Must-Read American Novels (185 pages)
  28. Cassar, Vincent & Nik Kalinowski — Bloomsbury Good Reading Guide: World Fiction (351 pages)
  29. Williams, Niall — Four Letters of Love (340 pages)
  30. Maxwell, Virginia & Duncan Garwood — Lonely Planet: Sicily (349 pages)
  31. Dumas, Alexandre (Robin Buss, transl.) — The Count of Monte Cristo (1117 pages)
  32. Straub, Peter — Ghost Story (497 pages)

Page count: 9447.

Last October one of my colleagues saw my Halloween selection, Ghost Story, on my desk and asked if that wasn't the story about a group of old men who sit around telling stories and getting killed off. Oh, I remarked, you've read it? He had me strung along for a while before fessing up that he'd seen the movie on the telly years ago. And here I wasn't even aware there'd been a movie.

The movie was made in 1981, starring Fred Astaire, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and John Houseman. What a collection! Unfortunately, production value was low, all but the most central characters were edited out, and the story was altered significantly. I suppose that's inevitable when paring a 500-page book down to under two hours of film. I'm never surprised that cuts are made, but I usually am by some of the decisions. The story doesn't hold together as well, some of the characters don't make sense, and the sense of impending doom is lacking because of the directorial decisions. I'm not surprised that a movie was made, though; I remember thinking how this would make a great movie, perhaps starring Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, Clint Eastwood, and whichever aging actor most resembles Orson Welles.

As for the book itself, Ghost Story is a well constructed story of a besieged small town in the Northeast during several weeks of ceaseless snow that isolates the town from the outside world. Straub does an excellent job creating an intricate web and and then guiding us along the gradual process of disentanglement while all the while creating a suffocating sense of inevitability and suspense.

I wouldn't say "Ghost Story" is what the story is, except in the broadest sense, but saying more might give too much away. The novel is about a small group of aging men who meet once a month, dressed in evening wear, to tell each other ghost stories. They call themselves "The Chowder Society," and as the story develops we learn why they continue to meet and why the strange events in the town seem to revolve around them and certain mysterious young women who have affected current and former residents of the town. I can say no more, and the previous sentence is deliberately misleading, in case anyone reading this wishes to read the novel. But I can say the task is well done, making this a satisfying suspense/horror novel.

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