The Ghost Stories of Muriel Spark
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The Ghost Stories of Muriel Spark

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  62 ratings  ·  14 reviews
I aim to startle as well as please," Muriel Spark has said, and in these eight marvelous ghost stories she manages to do both to the highest degree. As with all matters in the hands of Dame Muriel her spooks are entirely original. A ghost in her pantheon can be plaintive or a bit vengeful, or perhaps may not even be aware of being a ghost at all. One in fact is the ghost o...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published October 17th 2003 by New Directions Publishing Corporation (first published January 21st 2003)
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Eight of Muriel Spark's stories, all with ghosts. The first four are all very good, (The Girl I Left Behind Me, The Hanging Judge, The Seraph and the Zambesi, The Leaf-Sweeper) but the last four are even better. (The House of the Famous Poet, Another Pair of Hands, The Executor, The Portobello Road)

Spark has a way of hooking you from the first sentence. After only a few lines the story is set up, characters fully formed, and you as a reader are completely invested in the outcome. This is no sma...more
I love these—I gave them four stars and not five because they seem like minor works in the context of her overall writing. I’m also not a huge fan of the collection compiled from the retrospect of an author’s life including works spanning dozens of years. A great story collection is to me like a great rock album (each of PJ Harvey’s or the obvious White Album etc by the Beatles), with a theme reverberating in each of the individual pieces, a set of concerns and obsessions that repeat and reveal...more
Not sure that the stories in here quite deserved to be collected in a separate 'ghost stories' collection. Several weren't even really ghost stories.

I love Muriel Spark's writing but I was a bit underwhelmed by most of these. Portobello Road was pretty good, but what made the entire book worth it for me was 'the House of the Famous Poet' (apparently based on a real event in Spark's life) which I thought was tremendous and harrowing in that sly Muriel Spark way.
Two and a half stars, rounding up to three.
I liked exactly half of the stories. I liked the first story, though (view spoiler). The next three stories I didn't really like, though I can't really say why. The stories aren't bad, just sort of boring.
The last three stories in the collection were enjoyable. The next to last story, The Executor, I'd have to say is the most traditional ghost story in the collection, and I think wou...more
This collection of "ghost stories" isn't watching-a-horror-film-through-your-fingers scary but is reminiscent of a ghost story told around a campfire.
But the writing is superb: "He looked as if he would murder me and he did." To be able to craft a single sentence that fine.
There are some amazing stories in this collection - The Girl I Left Behind Me, The Executor, and The Portobello Road.
Thin, trite, predictable short stories with supernatural or magic realism elements. The prose is clean and precise, but the resolution in each case is foreshadowed much too clearly or never really strays from the initial premise. Along the way, there’s an image or two of mild interest, and I almost liked “The House of the Famous Poet” for that.
I picked this up on a whim, intrigued by the price (50 cents) and the fact that it was so short. I liked this book well enough, but I guess it just wasn't really my cup of tea. Most ghost stories leave me a little bored, but I liked her style of writing enough that I picked up another of her books at the library.
Everett Darling
An ascerbic sense of humor coupled with a vivid imagination make Muriel Spark a writer worth reading. Still wrapped up in the abstract funeral concept. One day I will get my very own, and I will take it without complaint.
Eric Bruen
Wonderful stories, greedily read them all in one sitting including the two I'd read before. Spark is a fantastic story teller, her characterisation is very sharp and these startling tales were all so pleasurable to read.
Not scary but wry. Not magical, but matter-of-fact. I'm still coming to grips with Spark's style. She doesn't quite connect with me, yet I keep reading her stories.
Read this for the short story "Portobello Road." Pristine, deep, twisted, and beautiful. It's as good as anything Hemingway ever wrote and twice as charming.
I think I'm in love with the ghost of Muriel Spark. After all, she was hilarious, strange, morbid, and quite the looker.
More Twilight Zoney than flat-out scary and beautifully written like everything by Spark.
Moira Russell
Mar 13, 2013 Moira Russell marked it as to-read
Shelves: ebook, on-the-kindle
Is this on Kindle? Nooo, of fucking course not.
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Dame Muriel Spark, DBE (1918–2006) was a prolific Scottish novelist, short story writer, and poet whose darkly comedic voice made her one of the most distinctive writers of the twentieth century. Spark grew up in Edinburgh and worked as a department store secretary, writer for trade magazines, and literary editor before publishing her first novel in 1957. A few years earlier, in 1954, she converte...more
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