Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ghosts of the World by Diane Canwell and Jonathan Sutherland

Here's a sample line taken from Ghosts of the World, pretty much at random: "Lying in bed one night, he was awoken by a loud noise, causing him to leap from his bed and go to investigate." (page 226) I can't find anything to indicate that the book has been translated, but maybe the authors are non-native English speakers. That's all I can figure. Their contorted, often disjointed and confusing prose sure makes it hard to appreciate the book. (Unless, of course, you treat it as a nonfiction The Eye of Argon.)

Most of the articles about ghostly sightings are short on details, too. I didn't expect more than a surface view of ghosts--just a fun book to spook myself with when I can't sleep at night--but this one's incredibly vague. It's full phrases like "sounds have been heard" and "the ghost was seen," without names or dates or anything, you know, interesting.

Here's another priceless butchering of the English language: "What had happened was that they had moved back to a past time dimension, then forward, returning to the present." (page 119) Oh, and this gem: "A friend of hers, Katharine Macquoid, saw her standing at the bottom of her bed and was puzzled as to why this had occurred." (page 137) And this confused mixture of specific detail and total vagueness: "It is allegedly linked to at least 13 deaths, and one of the new owners was in fact injured in a hunting accident the very next day, necessitating his arm being amputated, while the other vanished in a mysterious way and was never seen again." (page 37) Or this deceptively clear sentence: "The officers thought it was a throwback to a past event, but on closer investigation found it to be a ghostly repeat of what had happened 60 years before." (page 238)

I could quote from this book all day.

On the other hand, the photographs are lovely and some of them even have something to do with the text. This is the kind of book you shelve in the spare bedroom for insomniac guests to flip through.

B&N link


Kelly Robinson said...

Wow. Those are some bad sentences. Maybe they got an extra nickel per use of the passive voice?

K.C. Shaw said...

If they did, they used the proceeds of the book to buy their own Caribbean island.