Review: The Invention of Ghosts by Gwendolyn Kiste

Lately I’ve been thinking about what I jokingly call The Analog Days, the days before everything was online and digitized and available. The way things are now, if I think of it, I can find it. If I have a stray lyric looping in my mind, I can head to Spotify or Youtube, find the song, and play it as many times as I want. The way we interact with art now has changed.

In Ye Olden Days I had access to less art (books and albums). But I spent more time with them. I lived in them and read or listened to them over and over again. The act of spending a lot of physical time, interacting with a physical object, transfers emotional energy and memories to that object. Seeing or touching that object can trigger all sorts of memories and emotional responses. If I see the cover art for Ill Communication by the Beastie Boys, I remember buying it on cassette, that the cassette was green, that I bought it at Record & Tape Traders, and, once a week all summer of 1994, I listened it to every time I mowed the lawn at my parents house. This line of thinking isn’t new, I mean Proust knew this right?

The change is interesting though. Sitting here writing this I can glance over and see my phone lying on the desk. My phone contains hundreds of albums and thousands of songs that I’ve purchased in the digital age. But I have very little, if any, strong memories or emotions attached to them. There’s no physical object for them to attach to. Not enough time is spent with a limited amount of art for it to open up in new ways and bind with you.

Donald Glover said, “…like an apathetic teenager we have endless opportunities and resources, and endless chances to see something special, but we’ve become more and more bored by the nature of art due to our endless access to content.”

What does any of this have to do with Gwendolyn Kiste’s The Invention of Ghosts? I dunno, everything, something, nothing. Except to say that pulling out an old box filled with items from a previous time in your life, is a sacred act and there’s power in old photographs and bent spoons.

“But how could you fight what wasn’t there, a presence thinner than mist yet heavier than heartache?”

The Invention of Ghosts is a journey and investigation into the supernatural and the occult. Into the lives and friendship between two people. Into time and memory and emotion. And into those people and those objects that we are bound to, whether we want to be or not, whether we even fully remember or not. Maybe it’s a journey that will give way to reflection of people and places gone by, go with that feeling, you’ll be rewarded with a great novella from one of our best emerging horror writers.

(This review originally appeared at SciFi & Scary)

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