The Two Sams: Ghost Stories

Overview

With this unique collection, acclaimed author Glen Hirshberg breathes new life into an age-old literary tradition. In the title story a husband struggles with the grief and confusion of losing two children, and forms an odd bond with the infant spectrals that visit him in the night. "Dancing Men" depicts one of the creepiest rites of passage in recent memory when a boy visits his deranged grandfather in the New Mexico desert. "Struwwelpeter" introduces us to a brilliant, treacherous adolescent whose violent ...

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Overview

With this unique collection, acclaimed author Glen Hirshberg breathes new life into an age-old literary tradition. In the title story a husband struggles with the grief and confusion of losing two children, and forms an odd bond with the infant spectrals that visit him in the night. "Dancing Men" depicts one of the creepiest rites of passage in recent memory when a boy visits his deranged grandfather in the New Mexico desert. "Struwwelpeter" introduces us to a brilliant, treacherous adolescent whose violent tendencies and reckless mischief reach a sinister pinnacle as Halloween descends on a rundown Pacific Northwest fishing village. Tormented by his guilty conscience, a young man plumbs the depths of atonement as he and his favorite cousin commune with the almighty Hawaiian surf in "Shipwreck Beach." In "Mr. Dark's Carnival," a college professor confronts his own dark places in the form of a mysterious haunted house steeped in the folklore of grisly badlands justice.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"We go where our ghosts lead us." So says the narrator of a story in Hirshberg's luminous new collection of weird tales in which ghosts assume the shape of unaddressed emotional needs and denied fears, and the avenues characters follow them down end in haunting self-discovery. In "Mr. Dark's Carnival," a history professor's visit to a fabled Halloween funhouse turns eerie when the pranks get personal and push him to an unsettling revelation. The book's best selection, "Dancing Men," is an enigmatic but emotionally resonant tale wherein the horrors of the Holocaust achieve a tangible presence that haunts successive generations descended from a concentration camp survivor. Hirshberg (The Snowman's Children) shows uncommon talent for insinuating the supernatural into scenarios grounded in credible reality and for maintaining ambiguity until the moment of prime emotional impact. This is nowhere more evident than in the poignant title story, in which a man awakens from sleep to fulfill paternal obligations to an apparently needy child. Struck from the mold of classic ghost fiction and filled with emotionally charged symbols and set pieces, these exceptional and accomplished stories will put readers in mind of the electrifying short fiction of Peter Straub, Ramsey Campbell and other writers who represent the best of modern literary weird fiction. (Oct. 31) Forecast: A laudatory introduction by Ramsey Campbell and a blurb by Stephen Jones ("the next Big Thing in horror fiction") will help alert readers to this rising star whose work has already received a number of nominations for World Fantasy and International Horror Guild awards. Unlike the inapt image on the jacket, the subtitle will let readers know this is a collection of supernatural fiction. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A professor discovers the horrible truth behind a local legend in "Mr. Dark's Carnival," one of five novella-length tales that showcase Hirshberg's (The Snowman's Children) subtle talent for creating horror out of the ordinary lives of everyday people. From the poignant sadness of the title story to the stark inevitability of a young man's journey into darkness ("Struwwelpeter"), the stories in this volume exhibit a keen understanding of the elements of terror. Literate, thoughtful, and affecting, this collection, which includes an introduction by horror master Ramsey Campbell, belongs in most libraries' short story or horror collections. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Five novella-vriations on Hirshberg's usual themes of horror and hauntings (The Snowman's Children, 2002). Hirshberg writes more in the tradition of H.P. Lovecraft than Poe, creating a sense of dread with an atmosphere of weirdness and foreboding rather than relating any events of actual horror. It's an approach than can manage to raise a shiver or two, but you have to have some time on your hands, for the author is rarely in any rush to set his scenes. The smart-ass kid who is the central figure in "Struwwelpeter," for example, seems to be leading us into a tale that's basically concerned with his delusions-until it becomes clear by the end that the abandoned house at the center of his annual Halloween pranks may actually be haunted after all. Other pieces here are even more psychological, in a Henry James-ish kind of way: "Shipwreck Base" describes the eventual ruin of a guilt-racked young man who can't get over his complicity in a young man's accidental death, while the title story portrays a father obsessed with his two children who died years before. Hirshberg's characters also suffer from the weight of history to an unusual degree: The teacher who suffers a breakdown while leading a field trip of schoolchildren through the death camps of Eastern Europe finds himself confronted with the memory of his part in the death of his grandfather (a camp survivor), while the pompous Montana college professor who asks his students to investigate the veracity of ghost sightings in a small western town begins to experience some weird phenomena himself. Plodding and pretty lifeless for ghost stories, these tales suffer from glacial pacing, pale narration, and a largely uninvolving cast. Agent:Kathy Anderson/Anderson & Grinberg
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786712557
  • Publisher: Avalon Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/25/2003
  • Pages: 210
  • Product dimensions: 5.74 (w) x 8.59 (h) x 0.89 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2005

    Not to be missed!

    This is a collection of short stories by an already celebrated author for his short fictions. In the ghost story genre Glen Hirshberg is truely the best american pen stylist since the first publication of Great Master Peter Straub, 30 years ago. Mr. Hirshberg gives a good quantity of new blood, always served in the most literary ways. These are all ghost stories but herein, there isn't any kind of repetition feeling. The only wrong note is that here, the blend is so good that this collection, at the end feels a little short. There is two ways to solve this problem. Either re-read that wonderful collection or read, The Snowman's Children, Mr. Hirshberg's first novel, also a gem on its own . Thanks, Glen! I can't wait for your new novel.

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