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Ghosts of Chicago

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  57 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Features a collection of stories that tell of everyday people who must confront their own private ghosts - an accountant who falls in love with a woman who is in love with a man on death row, and a boy whose fascination with movie monsters grows stronger as his mother's pregnancy comes to term.
Hardcover, 277 pages
Published October 1st 2008 by Jefferson Press
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Manik Sukoco
Jan 04, 2016 Manik Sukoco rated it really liked it
John McNally's new story collection Ghosts of Chicago is full of portents, mysterious circumstances and haunted people. McNally has the ability to get to the essence of his characters and allow them to live their stories and just like real life, they are full of unexpected events and comic turns. There is ravaged beauty, bits of magic and hopefulness in these stories.
The book opens with "Return Policy," a very affecting story about Mark Timbers, whose wife had left him after 18 years of marriage
Geoff Hyatt
Feb 26, 2009 Geoff Hyatt rated it it was amazing
Person and place, past and present, living and dead, all intertwine in this nearly flawless collection of short fiction. These Chicago-centered narratives of hope and despair feature famous figures and regular nobodies trying to find their way. "The Goose," "Creature Features," and "Planetary Danger," are standouts. "Contributor's Notes" is another hilarious excoriation of academia from the author who brought us the polemic "Politics of Correctness" in his 2000 collection "Troublemakers." If you ...more
Roxanna zalesny
Mar 01, 2011 Roxanna zalesny rated it really liked it
I am giving this book 4 stars; not because it's one of the best books I've ever read. Rather because it's one of the most "real." The stories are haunting--in that they touch a nerve in the way that only that which reflects humanness--in all it's complexity can. Each story on its own might be viewed as interesting, wierd, sad, etc. Taken in their collectivity they reveal what we all already know---that a lifetime is certainly greater than its individual parts.
Feb 22, 2013 Paul rated it it was amazing
The spirit of Chicago moves through McNally's excellent collection of short stories. But the story that resonated the most with me was the pointed and unexpected, "Contributor's Notes," which merely name-drops a few Chicago places. In "Notes," McNally eviscerates the workshop/conference culture of modern American writers. The satirical look at creative writing takes a pointed swipe at authors such as Jonathan Franzen, David Foster Wallace, and others, insinuating an author can become the "next ...more
Don't let the title fool you. The ghosts that haunt this collection of short stories are the elements that make Chicago the great city it is. Whether it's the icons of movie criticism that appear in the short but very amusing real-person-fiction piece, or John Belushi's last thoughts, and (my favorite) a story about a young boy seeing life through the movies of WGN's "Creature Features", the spirit lives in almost every story McNally shares with us. The last story, about a writer who tells the ...more
Dec 03, 2010 Greta rated it it was ok
Short stories aren't my thing, but I thought I should "put myself out there." When I was reading each story I felt pretty good, but then it ended in under 30 pages and I would remember there was nothing else to come and feel like I was cheated out of a real story.

Was the last story fiction or McNally telling a real story about himself? If it was real, it made me dislike him because I can't stand writers or actors who never try and then make tons of money. If it was fake, I still kind of dislike
Aug 20, 2010 Deborah rated it it was ok
I was immediately disappointed--I loved After the Workshop, so I thought I'd try a collection of McNally's short stories. The first two stories felt like I was reading someone's college creative writing assignments, so I put the book down for about a week. Then I decided to read Contribotor's Notes at the end, which I actually thought was notes from the contributor. Na-ah. It was hilarious. It almost sounded to me like McNally was channeling a grown-up Holden Caulfield. Now I'm reading the rest ...more
Jonathan Hodges
Jul 16, 2012 Jonathan Hodges rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read much short fiction since I took a prolonged hiatus from publishing back in 2005/6 but this collection caused me to wonder why. I've also had a tendency to avoid fiction which borrowed from humor but I was grateful for each opportunity to laugh out loud whilst reading this collection, made all the more satisfying as typically the characters prompting the humor were in no mood to laugh themselves.
Mar 23, 2009 Darlene rated it liked it
I don't know why I keep trying to read short stories? I didn't finish this book, it just didn't hold my interest and I had better things to read. Not that I thought this book was bad. If you are someone who likes contemporary short stories, I would recommend this book.
Simon A. Smith
I really liked this book. Several stories stood out (like the first one and the one about the movie monsters) but I'm too lazy to go through and write out all the titles here... Just trust me. Seriously, I enjoyed the crap out of it.
Oct 06, 2011 Reacher rated it it was ok
Clean, well-written stories. But they lacked bite. For me, a good story or book is one that leaves seeds behind in my head; where certain elements stick with me, not just a day after, but a week, a month, a year after. These stories had none of that.
Jun 09, 2010 Zachary rated it really liked it
This was good. There is some creative stuff in there. Many different stories, different voices, etc.
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John McNally is the author of three novels (After the Workshop, America's Report Card and The Book of Ralph) and two story collections (Ghosts of Chicago and Troublemakers). He's written two books on writing: Vivid and Continuous: Essays and Exercise for Writing Fiction and The Creative Writer's Survival Guide: Advice from an Unrepentant Novelist He's edited six fiction anthologies, on subjects ra ...more
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