Thursday, July 16, 2020

Spirit Level, by John Kessel


(Horror) In the middle of the night, the ghost of Michael’s ex-wife confronts him in his parents’ old house—which is weird because she isn’t even dead yet. (9,747 words; Time: 32m)

Recommended By: 👍RHorton.r+1 (Q&A)

"Spirit Level," by (edited by C.C. Finlay), appeared in issue 07-08|20, published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2020.372 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: Michael isn’t exactly having a midlife crisis, but on the edge of 60, he’s lost most of the things that matter to people. He’s divorced his wife. His college-age son is alienated from him. His work is unsatisfying and he’s only a contractor. His dad is gone, and he only has bitter memories. His mom is dying, and he never visits her. And he’s in the process of alienating the woman he’s dating—the only bright spot in his life.

The “ghosts” are more like messages. Messages that tell him things he already knows. The mention of the Nicole Kidman movie, The Others (2001) suggests that maybe he really is already dead, although his suicide at the end suggests otherwise.

Con: If the visions are just hallucinations, this story has no speculative content. As it is, it’s hard to really like a story about a depressed person who kills himself.

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