One of NPR's Great Reads of 2016
“A lively assemblage and smart analysis of dozens of haunting stories… absorbing…[and] intellectually intriguing.”—The New York Times Book Review
An intellectual feast for fans of offbeat history, Ghostland takes readers on a road trip through some of the country's most infamously haunted placesand deep into the dark side of our history.
Colin Dickey is on the trail of America's ghosts. Crammed into old houses and hotels, abandoned prisons and empty hospitals, the spirits that linger continue to capture our collective imagination, but why? His own fascination piqued by a house hunt in Los Angeles that revealed derelict foreclosures and "zombie homes," Dickey embarks on a journey across the continental United States to decode and unpack the American history repressed in our most famous haunted places. Some have established reputations as "the most haunted mansion in America," or "the most haunted prison"; others, like the haunted Indian burial grounds in West Virginia, evoke memories from the past our collective nation tries to forget.
With boundless curiosity, Dickey conjures the dead by focusing on questions of the livinghow do we, the living, deal with stories about ghosts, and how do we inhabit and move through spaces that have been deemed, for whatever reason, haunted? Paying attention not only to the true facts behind a ghost story, but also to the ways in which changes to those facts are madeand why those changes are madeDickey paints a version of American history left out of the textbooks, one of things left undone, crimes left unsolved.
Spellbinding, scary, and wickedly insightful, Ghostland discovers the past we're most afraid to speak of aloud in the bright light of day is the same past that tends to linger in the ghost stories we whisper in the dark.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Colin Dickey grew up in San Jose, California, a few miles from the Winchester Mystery House, the most haunted house in America. As a writer, speaker, and academic, he has made a career out of collecting unusual objects and hidden histories all over the country. He's a regular contributor to the LA Review of Books and Lapham's Quarterly, and is the co-editor (with Joanna Ebenstein) of The Morbid Anatomy Anthology. He is also a member of the Order of the Good Death, a collective of artists, writers, and death industry professionals interested in improving the Western world's relationship with mortality. With a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Southern California, he is an associate professor of creative writing at National University.
Read an Excerpt
1933, a summer’s day in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. There are children playing outside on East Fourth Street; it is August, and they are wild, they are shouting and running through the street, trying to gather up the last of the season before the fall sets in. There is nothing unusual about any of this. Then the door swings open at 29 East Fourth Street, and an old woman emerges on to the stoop overlooking the street, waving her arms wildly and shouting to the children to be quiet. The children, as well as the adults on the street, all recognize her: Gertrude Tredwell, who’s lived in the house for over ninety years, born there only a few years after her father purchased it in 1935. She is enraged; she tells them they are being far too noisy, they must calm down. The children quiet, turning towards the high staircase that leads to Gertrude’s front door, looking up with fear at the old woman who, satisfied, returns indoors and shuts the door.
Excerpted from "Ghostland"
Copyright © 2017 Colin Dickey.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Author's Note xiii
Introduction: Anatomy of a Haunting, New York, NY 1
I The Unhomely houses and mansions 13
1 The Secret Staircase Salem, MA 21
2 Shifting Ground St. Trancisville, LA 37
3 The Endless House San Jose, CA 49
4 The Rathole Revelation Georgetown, NY Bull Valley, IL 69
5 The Family That Would Not live St Louis, MO 81
II After Hours bars, restaurants, hotels, and brothels 93
6 A Devilish Place Richmond, VA 103
7 Baby Reno, NV 119
8 Passing Through LOS Angeles, CA 131
III Civic-Minded Spirits prisons and asylums, graveyards and cemeteries, a park 151
9 Melancholy Contemplation Moundsville, WV 159
10 The Stain Danvers, MA Athens, OH 173
11 Awaiting the Devil's Coming Charleston, SC Douglas County, KS 187
12 Our Illustrious Dead Shiloh, TN 203
13 The Wind Through Cathedral Park Portland, OR 213
IV Useless Memory cities and towns 225
14 The Wet Grave New Orleans, LA 233
15 Among the Ruins Detroit, MI 253
16 Hillsdale, USA 267
Epilogue: Ghosts of a New Machine Allendale, CA 277
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is truly interesting. It examines the phenomenon of ghost stories and legends, how they originate and what functions they serve in our society. Everyone likes a good scary story, but it's really interesting to see how these ghost stories develop into a narrative that often has a deeper meaning. A great read, especially now at Halloween!