Abner Cray is your average freelance photographer until he
is kissed by an overweight mystic on a bus. Arriving in New
York to start a new commission, Abner finds himself dosing
down at an old friends flat, a flat already inhabited by his
friend's girlfriend. If that wasn't enough to complicate his
life, Abner's friend, Art, is on the run for killing the very
same woman he is sharing the flat with. Abner soon starts
to experience some very strange things in his exploration
Manhattan Ghost Story is written by T. M. Wright who has
amassed a serious body of work over the last thirty years.
The book has not seen a printing in the UK since 1990, so
here is a chance to catch up with a great read that's been
out of print for too long. The book cover has a quote by Stephen
King saying that he thinks that Wright is "a rare and blazing
talent" and who am I to disagree with the big man. I have
to admit that I had never heard of Wright before and given
how good the book was this can only be to my own detriment.
style makes for a very easy read. That is not to say it is
simplistic. A good writing style should flow, it should have
an internal rhythm. Reading the book should be akin to listening
to a well told story, where the author is able introduce you
to separate characters which, through their actions and thoughts
you come to care what happens to them, and develop a personal
stake in their destiny. In this respect Wright pushes all
the right buttons and, although I'm getting to hate the phrase,
it would be fair to say that this is a real page-turner.
is not your typical horror book full of zombies and disembowelment
and whilst it easily cranks up the tension, as the story progresses,
it never goes for any cheap literary shots just to get the
audiences attention. Given the book cover and the back notes
it's not giving anything away to say that a lot of people
that Cray meets in Manhattan are, in fact, dead. The reader
gets this idea way before Cray does and for a very good reason,
Cray doesn't want to admit it to himself as he has fallen
in love with Art's dead ex-girlfriend. What's interesting
about their relationship is that it is fraught with all the
same problem of any couple. Cray deludes himself about the
truth. True she isn't perfect, but then who is? He makes the
same sort of excuses and fudges that everyone does when their
partner is less than perfect, but you still love them.
Wright, through Cray, continues to insist that the story is
not a love story, in this he is lying to both himself and
his audience. It is Cray's love for Phyllis that drives much
of the narrative, which compels him further and further into
the world of the dead, in search of his lost love. We take
this journey with Cray to discover that death isn't what you
might think, some parts of it are disturbing, some are comic
and yet more are just touchingly sad.
have continued to bring great quality novels at a reasonable
price; one can only hope that they will also publish the second
and third book set in this weird and wonderful world. If you
have never read a T. M. Wright book then you're in for a real
treat with A Manhattan Ghost Story, not only for the
quality of the writing but also because this is an important
book as it was the first to use the world of the dead as something
with its own internal rules and characters. Prior to the first
publication of the book ghost stories followed a predictable
template, this book breaks the mould and without it we may
not have had Sixth Sense, Dead like Me, Ghost
Whisperer and Medium, all projects that have a
debt to this book.
enjoy the book which started a whole new subgenre, I know
I certainly did.
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