Saturday, May 10, 2008

Book: Will Storr vs. The Supernatural

All right, all right. I read it. (please note that I also ran errands, made hummus and apfel kuchen and slept in today as well! Did not just ignore weekend duties!! ... although I was tempted...)

At first, I was disappointed. I'm not sure what I expected... maybe more chills, more spooks? But really, this book wasn't supposed to be scary, exactly. It was truly, as the subtitle says, one man's search for the truth about ghosts. And in that, it succeeded fantastically.

Also, Will Storr is a Brit and the book is peppered with British slang and terms, which simultaneously made it fun to read and also created a little distance, for me. For some reason I didn't feel all cozy with the book. Because it's non-fiction, perhaps? I don't know. I think that's why I felt a little disappointed... for some reason I didn't feel right up close in the book as I usually do. That said, after a bit of thought, I am not disappointed, after all. It was a great read and totally sucked me in, provided food for thought and some chuckles, and was definitely fascinating.

Will Storr, a journalist, decides to interview an American 'demonologist'. (as an aside, for some reason I assigned the demonologist the looks of Robbie's brother-in-law from The Wedding Singer, which made it hard to take him seriously) A skeptic, he goes along to an investigation and experiences some things that makes him start to wonder about his beliefs (or non-beliefs). From there, he talks to psychics, mediums, priests, monsterologists, sensitives, psychiatrists, investigators and priests, all trying to get a. some hard proof and b. figure out how to make sense of it all.

His journeys and travels are completely engrossing and fascinating. After awhile, you get the sense that he starts to be able to discern between true believers, true paranormal, and true charlatans. His observations are frequently hilarious, and the recountings are well-edited. I might argue that they are too edited; often I was left wondering, "... and THEN what happened??" (reminding me of Turn of the Screw). Also a really good piece on being on the set of Most Haunted (a show that I can't stand, equally as much as I adore Ghost Hunters).

However, after much musing over the nature of heaven and hell and the purpose for our being here on earth, he finally spends some time in "the most haunted building in Britain." On his last night there, he attempts to spend the night in the most unsettling room in the old house. Something happens in that room that, to him, seems to seal the deal. There are ghosts, there is such a thing as paranormal activity, and sometimes the paranormal doesn't like us very much.

All in all, I think I really enjoyed this book. I say "think" because I am left with a nagging feeling that I wanted more somehow. I couldn't say quite exactly what more I wanted... maybe I actually just want to read it all over, again. And I really, really wish that I had been the one going on all those investigations, talking to the Vatical priest, spending the night in the haunted room... It just sounds so interesting!! (please help me, I am such a geek)

So, after reading the book, I would say that my belief and fascination with the supernatural remains, as always, firmly in place as a real possibility. I'm not a true believer (although I'd like to be), but I do love the topic with a passion. I think that in my heart I want to believe that there is something more than our day-to-day exisitence, and I also love a good scare.

When we were little, Matt and I and some friends used to decorate my room as a 'haunted house'. We loved this game. We would rig lines so that when you opened the door, cabinets would open, ghosts would slide down from the corners. We had monsters in corners, flashlights under our chins. We could do this for hours. We tried to charge admission to neighborhood kids. My room was so small, maybe 10 x 12, how did we do all that in such a small space?

Anyway. That room was definitely 'active'. At least once a month I got so spooked that I had to sleep out in the living room (in the 'safe' part of the house). Definitely saw shadows moving. Our cats were freaked out back in that part of the house (and in the dining room). Matt andI had many scary experiences in both of our rooms. When he was older, Matt heard whispers back in my room. Neither of us like spending the night there any more.

Maybe this predisposed me to be drawn to the supernatural. As I've said before, I don't like gore, but I do like anything spooky, anything ghosty.

An added bonus to this book is all the extra leads for me to look up on the Internet. The Enfield case, EVPs, etc. Great for late at night (with Terri safely beside me).

Anyway, a good foil to Turn of the Screw, which was not a very satisfying ghost story. I think I'll hold onto this and read a few of the chapters over again (and look some things up). Definitely a fun and fast read. Now I can get back to studying and good old Arthur.


Alex said...

Seems like a good moment to plug the new X-Files movie, "I Want To Believe" coming out July 25th.

I don't know who Will Storr is. (I didn't know who Timm Gunn was either.) Is he like the Ryan Seacrest of the supernatural set?

Daphne said...

I didn't know who Will Storr was either (I still don't, really). I think he's just a random semi-famous journalist. ??

Yay, X-Files!! Can't wait!