Thursday, 17 August 2017

'In the Blink of an Eye'


Cold Iron: 21st Century Ghost Stories

We're nearing the end of Cold Iron: Ghost Stories from the 21st Century, and it's been quite a journey. The stories have ranged from okay to excellent, with the weighting very much toward the latter. So I'm happy to report that Beda Higgins tale maintains the high standard.

The story begins in one of our beleaguered NHS hospitals where a tired nurse makes a serious mistake. A boy dies. Is Jo to blame? She tries to forget the incident when she jets off to Buenos Aires to meet her boyfriend. As you might imagine, this is a tale of supernatural vengeance and/or justice.

The Argentine capital - home of Borges, of course - provides a suitably strange backdrop as doom zeroes in on Jo. She starts seeing images of death, which her boyfriend does not notice. Eventually they end up in a cemetery that is also a major tourist attraction. The final scene - involving a pic taken with a phone - is a little masterclass in how to make a modern ghost story work like a classic.

More from this running review soon. Nearly there!

Escape from Broadmoor (1948)

Here's an old film in which a young John Le Mesurier plays a violent psychopath. I think we can all guess the nature of the 'twist' quite early on, but it's still an enjoyable little watch.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Good Omens

I miss Terry Pratchett. I always miss people who make the world seem a more interesting and civilised place. God knows we've got a global surplus of the other kind of folk. So I was pleased to read that TP's collaboration with Neil Gaiman, the novel Good Omens, is coming to a screen near me.
The late Terry Pratchett would have been “over the moon” at the “dream” casting of David Tennant as the demon Crowley in the forthcoming adaptation of Good Omens, according to the Discworld author’s long-time assistant Rob Wilkins. 
Variety reported that Michael Sheen will play the angel Aziraphale, and Tennant will take on the role of Crowley, in Amazon Studios’ six-episode adaptation next year. Co-authored by Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, the 1990 fantasy bestseller Good Omens tells of Crowley and Aziraphale’s attempts to prevent the apocalypse, following the birth of the antichrist, Adam, in Lower Tadfield, Oxfordshire.

 Image result for good omens

'Ghosted'

It's inevitable that a self-consciously 21st century collection of ghost stories would include a tale about social media. Fortunately for me (and you, if you buy it) Cold Iron has one of the best examples of this sub-genre I've read.

Matt Wesolowski's story is written in the first person, present tense, and concerns a man who has had a bad breakup. Being 'ghosted', he helpfully explains, is being consigned to oblivion on Facebook, Instagram etc. Someone just stops responding to your messages - you have become invisible, or 'dead to them'.

The story features a nightmarish curry night with the lads, in which our hero is asked about his new partner. Drunkenness, confusion, and the inability to get a response to posts, messages etc all collide in a series of powerful images. Modernistic techniques are used to good effect. Finally all is made clear.

Traditionalists may not like this one. I liked it a lot. It combines deep feeling with excellent grasp of form and style. Another author to look out for.