October 2010 | L. D. Mitchell

It's Alive...!!!

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary....

Is there anyone left who still ponders over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore?

A few of us, perhaps ... though nowadays our numbers seem to be greatly diminished.

Of course, you could do something to rectify this sad state of affairs if you really wanted to. Wouldn't take much effort, really. A little judicious gift-giving....

You know all those Halloween parties coming up next weekend? Well, being the cultivated person that you are, you are going to bring a small gift for the host or hostess, are you not?

So why not forego your usual gift of blood-red wine, or that bouquet of black roses, in favor of something likely to last just a little bit longer ... a book!

Not just any book, of course, but something appropriate to the occasion. Perhaps a nice little book of ghost stories....

No, no ... not Poe! Been there, done that. Not Turn of the Screw, either. Or The Monkey's Paw. Or The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Or anything else that your host or hostess might actually expect.

No ... give your recipient something that will really curdle the blood and chill the spine. Give your host or hostess a nice little collection of hyakumonogatari kaidankai:

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The dizzying array of Japanese ghosts, and the stories about them, are not for the faint of heart—tradition has it that samurai recited such stories as a test of courage.

Given sufficient incentive, perhaps your host or hostess will be able to summon up the courage to play the very parlor game that gave rise to these tales of the supernatural in Edo Japan:

  • Place 100 candles in a circle
  • Have each guest relate a ghostly tale
  • As each tale ends, extinguish a single candle
  • Every candle extinguished will darken the room, beckoning the dead
  • When the final candle goes out....