Literature / 20th Century Ghosts
20th Century Ghosts is a short story anthology written by Joe Hill. While the stories are predominately horror, there are some other genres as well.

Stories in 20th Century Ghosts:

  • "Best New Horror": A jaded editor of an annual horror anthology discovers a disturbing short story and attempts to track down its elusive author.
  • "20th Century Ghost": An old-style movie theater is haunted by the spirit of a young woman who died there.
  • "Pop Art": A young outcast befriends another boy who is made out of inflatable plastic.
  • "You Will Hear the Locust Sing": A young man wakes up and finds that he has turned into a giant insect.
  • "Abraham's Boys": A father tries to teach his sons about vampires.
  • "Better Than Home": About a troubled boy whose father manages a baseball team.
  • "The Black Phone": A young boy is kidnapped by a child murderer and held in a basement with a mysterious black phone hanging on the wall. At night, the phone rings.
  • "In the Rundown": A videostore clerk discovers a grisly scene on a weedy dirt lane.
  • "The Cape": A young boy discovers that he can fly with the use of a cape.
  • "Last Breath": An old man runs a museum which contains the last breaths of various notable individuals.
  • "Dead-wood": Can trees have ghosts?
  • "The Widow's Breakfast": A hobo comes across a good Good Samaritan.
  • "Bobby Conroy Comes Back from the Dead": Two ex-lovers meet each while working as extras on the set of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead (1978).
  • "My Father's Mask": A family goes on a strange trip where everyone is forced to wear masks.
  • "Voluntary Committal": A story of two brothers, one of whom is an Idiot Savant who builds vast cardboard forts that connect to different worlds.
  • "Scheherazade's Typewriter": A daughter discovers that her dead father's typewriter is still writing stories...

Tropes in the short stories:

  • Body Horror: "You Will Hear the Locust Sing."
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Both "You Will Hear the Locust Sing" and "Best New Horror" end with the protagonist in the midst of a pretty serious confrontation.
  • Comicbook Adaptation: In addition to writing an adaptation of "The Cape", Hill also wrote a sequel and prequel in comic form.
  • Evil Phone: Subverted in the short story "The Black Phone". The circumstances and nature of the phone are fairly dark, but the phone's actually not so evil at all.
  • Face–Heel Turn: The ending of "The Cape".
  • Genre Savvy: One benefit to Eddie Carroll, the jaded horror anthology editor in "Best New Horror".
  • Kitsch Collection: The short story "The Last Breath" features of collection of famous people's last breaths.
  • Macabre Moth Motif: In "20th Century Ghost", a ghost in a movie theater appears friendly and normal at first, but after people interact with her for a little while strange things start happening, including creepy white moths gathering all around her.
  • Magic Realism: "Pop Art" features the titular character Art who is a biologically-born inflatable person in a world where it's a rare but occurring genetic disorder.
  • Shout-Out: "You Will Hear the Locust Sing" is a open riff on Franz Kafka's story Metamorphosis.
  • Superheroes Wear Capes: Deconstructed in "The Cape".
  • Surreal Horror: Many but particularly "My Father's Mask".
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: "Abraham's Boys" plays off this although it also implies that Van Helsing is just crazy.