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20th Century Ghosts | [Joe Hill]

20th Century Ghosts

Imogene is young and beautiful. She kisses like a movie star and knows everything about every film ever made. She's also dead and waiting in the Rosebud Theater for Alec Sheldon on an afternoon in 1945...Arthur Roth is a lonely kid with big ideas and a gift for attracting abuse. It isn't easy to make friends when you're the only inflatable boy in town.
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Publisher's Summary

A dazzlingly original, award-winning collection of visions and nightmares from the New York Times best-selling author of Heart-Shaped Box.

Imogene is young and beautiful. She kisses like a movie star and knows everything about every film ever made. She's also dead and waiting in the Rosebud Theater for Alec Sheldon on an afternoon in 1945....Arthur Roth is a lonely kid with big ideas and a gift for attracting abuse. It isn't easy to make friends when you're the only inflatable boy in town....Francis is unhappy. He was human once, but that was then. Now he's an eight-foot tall locust and everyone in Calliphora will tremble when they hear him sing....John Finney is locked in a basement that's stained with the blood of half a dozen other murdered children. In the cellar with him is an antique telephone, long since disconnected, but which rings at night with calls from the dead.

The past isn't dead. It isn't even past.

©2005, 2007 Joe Hill; (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers

What the Critics Say

  • Audie Award Winner, Short Stories/Collections, 2008

"Most of the stories display the unself-conscious dash that made Hill's novel an intelligent pleasure....Not just for ghost addicts." (Kirkus Reviews)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (399 )
5 star
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3.9 (191 )
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Story
3.9 (188 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Kasey Portland, OR, USA 02-12-09
    Kasey Portland, OR, USA 02-12-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    41
    ratings
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    82
    5
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    "Wonderful and recommended"

    I am not a fan of short stories in general and I had never heard of Joe Hill. I don't even know what possessed me to buy this particular book but I think it must have been good luck that I did.

    The beauty of the language he uses to describe everything from an inflatable boy to a boy who turns into a giant bug is beautiful. Almost like listening to poetry. Some of the stories are just plain weird and others are downright poignant. The little novella that ends the collection, voluntary commital, is probably one of the best short stories I have ever heard. I find myself giving this book repeat listenings.

    If you dislike the twilight zone I doubt you would enjoy this.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristy Marion, IA, USA 12-01-08
    Kristy Marion, IA, USA 12-01-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    6
    1
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    "Entertaining, page turner, creepy, imagination..."

    If you're a fan of spooky stories and prefer them in small blocks, you'll appreciate this book. I have a few personal favorites within this grouping and I'm sure you'll pick out your own. I've already listed to some of the stories twice, just out of "what?! ...did I really hear what I thought I heard?"

    My sister also bought the book and absolutely loved it. We were comparing notes after each story... Her favorite story in this book was "the black phone". Mine leans towards "the cape" but I really enjoyed them all. After I finished this book I downloaded "The heart shaped box" and look forward to reading it.

    Thank you Joe Hill!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kimberly Fair Oaks, CA, United States 11-16-12
    kimberly Fair Oaks, CA, United States 11-16-12 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Maybe its just me......"

    I like Joe Hill and have read/enjoyed (hard copy) Hear-Shaped Box.

    This collection of stories was a little difficult for me to warm up to. I only really liked Black Telephone. The rest felt..... unfinished. Maybe its just a writting style Im not used to.

    I have to say I liked the reader. He sounded a little like he had a head cold but that "stuffiness" made all the "kid" parts see so real.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Rosier columbia sc 02-26-08
    Laura Rosier columbia sc 02-26-08 Member Since 2008

    life is goodgirl

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    12
    1
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    "excellent stories"

    joe hill is an exciting new author. i read "heart shaped box" to my husband while traveling, and although the graphic images were tough to read and stomach sometimes, we really loved the story and liked the 20th century touches.

    i was eager to try his short stories, and was not disappointed. pop art was an astounding story. the opening story (button boy) was riveting, and the closing story (box forts by morris) was awesome! some stories ended far too early, like the one about the mom and two boys and the geeky teenager who ran across them on the road. i guess mr hill was leaving the outcome of these up to the reader's imagination, but for a first story compilation from a new writer, these stories really read like they were written from a pen with the years of experience like his father!

    i did get tired of really sad, life-beaten boys and girls.

    by the way, i thought the reader did well voicing teenagers, especially boys, and younger children.

    looking forward anxiously to more joe hill!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Yelm, WA, United States 05-24-12
    Laura Yelm, WA, United States 05-24-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disappointing"

    After listing to Heart Shaped Box, I was excited to download another book by Joe Hill but what a let down this turned out to be. Most of the stories were utterly rediculous and those that were actually interresting cut off smack dead in the middle. I am ok with an author leaving you guessing in the end but there at least needs to be an end. It felt to as if Mr. Hill began writing a story but lost interest after a few pages and pushed it aside without ever finishing it. That's how most of these stories were and none of them were scary.

    This was truly a waste of a credit.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aimz SALT LAKE CITY, UT, United States 10-22-11
    Aimz SALT LAKE CITY, UT, United States 10-22-11 Member Since 2003

    Audible rawks! My taste is beyond eclectic and Audible always has plenty to choose from, no matter what mood I'm in!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    "Why did I wait so long to hear this?"

    Yes, I knew he's Steven King's kid. Yes, I listened to Heart-Shaped Box ages ago. Yes, I knew this book existed, but still it took me too long to get around to queuing this up and enjoying these well crafted tales of the bizarre and quietly disturbing tales (well, all except the award winning, but lengthy, Better Than Home, whose subject matter just didn't flow with the rest of the collection).

    Hill's stories range from fairly straight-up horror to fun-house mirror fantasy. Vampire hunters and child killers make appearances, as do inflatable boys and painfully realistic underachieving boys with possible super powers. Not to mention the sweet movie house ghost of the title ... What was I waiting for?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gregory Robbinsdale, MN, USA 04-25-09
    Gregory Robbinsdale, MN, USA 04-25-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
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    "Great stories, great narrator, average production."

    Maybe it is because there were productions of each short story and they were just put together for this collection but I was not impressed by the inconsistencies in production. Sometimes, there are scary, cool music breaks between each story, making it easy to know when one is finished. Other times, the same music will play randomly in the middle of a story. Worse, there is often no breaks in between each story other than the announcement of the title. It made no sense.
    The stories themselves are fantastic! Joe Hill is a great writer. The narrator is super good too and I enjoyed him. The rating is for those two reasons (as it should be). The production of this book, however, rates only one star.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eve NY 02-28-09
    Eve NY 02-28-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    13
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    "Amazing writer"

    I listened to one short story after another, and then went back and listened to some of them again.
    Joe Hill is a wonderful and creative writer. I then learned that he is Stephen King's son, but his talent is his own.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth archdale, NC, United States 01-04-08
    Elizabeth archdale, NC, United States 01-04-08 Member Since 2004

    mother, wife, artist

    HELPFUL VOTES
    33
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    "It was Okay?"


    Not as good as I was hoping, I much prefered his first novel, but not bad for passing the time around halloween, but warning to the buyer, not all of the "ghosts" in this book are spooks, and that can be a little misleading...

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Beaufort, SC, United States 04-04-14
    Charles Beaufort, SC, United States 04-04-14 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    60
    7
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    "Disappointing"

    I have read everything else that Joe Hill has written and enjoyed them, and I like short stories. But I was disappointed in this book. Several of the stories just ended, and I was left wondering what happened. Also, there are very few ghost stories, which was also disappointing, given the title.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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