Guestbook: Ghost Stories

Guestbook: Ghost Stories

What haunts us? What can’t we let go of? A tennis prodigy collapses after his wins, crediting them to an invisible, not entirely benevolent presence, until one day he vanishes. A series of ghosts appear at their former bedsides, some distraught, some fascinated, to witness their unfamiliar occupants. A woman returns from a visit to Alcatraz with an uncomfortable feeling. T...

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Title:Guestbook: Ghost Stories
Author:Leanne Shapton
Rating:

Guestbook: Ghost Stories Reviews

  • Delany Holcomb

    As a printmaker, historian, and bookseller, this book brought together everything I enjoy and adore and fit inside the binding of a book. This work flows like a museum and is curated so carefully with its stories that it performs for itself. An enchanting read!

  • Drew

    5+ out of 5.

    Surprisingly frightening, full of imagination-stoking fragments or tales that light up the darker corners of your mind for just long enough to wonder if you're really alone there. Some of the more traditional stories have their own strengths -- a tennis prodigy whose uncanny abilities are perhaps due to an imaginary friend who might not be so imaginary, a cellphone-video one-page ghost story -- but the real powerful stuff comes from Shapton's juxtaposition of photography and text, f

    5+ out of 5.

    Surprisingly frightening, full of imagination-stoking fragments or tales that light up the darker corners of your mind for just long enough to wonder if you're really alone there. Some of the more traditional stories have their own strengths -- a tennis prodigy whose uncanny abilities are perhaps due to an imaginary friend who might not be so imaginary, a cellphone-video one-page ghost story -- but the real powerful stuff comes from Shapton's juxtaposition of photography and text, from the ways in which the reader must project their own story onto the negative space therein.

    Or maybe I'm just the kind of reader who, when shown a grainy photograph of a room in an old house in a book subtitled 'ghost stories,' wants there to be a bump in that particular night, and will immediately consider all the ways there could be one.

  • Timothy Deer

    This is the weirdest book I’ve ever encountered and I think I might have hallucinated the whole thing, including the fact that Martha Stewart told me to read it. Couldn’t put it down but maybe that was sleep paralysis in waking form. An extra star for how the book smelled.

  • Callum McAllister

    Leanne shapton: a legend

  • Zoe

    A haunting, shimmering treat. Weighs heavy on the heart.

  • karen

    BOO!

    this book had been on my radar ever since i’d seen it pop up, prior to its release, on a few different horror-focused book lists. since i am always on the lookout for off-kilter horror, i snatched it up the week it came out and was instantly struck by what a beautiful, thoughtfully designed book it is—each story is offset, assisted, or composed entirely of the author’s own photographs and artwork, and it looks gorgeous.

    as far as its horror content, well, let’s just say it is

    off-kilter t

    BOO!

    this book had been on my radar ever since i’d seen it pop up, prior to its release, on a few different horror-focused book lists. since i am always on the lookout for off-kilter horror, i snatched it up the week it came out and was instantly struck by what a beautiful, thoughtfully designed book it is—each story is offset, assisted, or composed entirely of the author’s own photographs and artwork, and it looks gorgeous.

    as far as its horror content, well, let’s just say it is

    off-kilter that it may not

    horror. no one will ever be scared by this book. unless a poltergeist knocks it off the bookshelf. or hollows it out and fills the hollows with spiders. etc.

    although i’ve been conditioned by books like

    and

    to associate floor plans and olde-timey photographs with horror,

    stories composed

    of these elements, which a fair number of these are, is not enough to goose my bumps.

    although, what have these reindeer

    that is making them so tense?

    to be fair, just because i was led to it following a trail of horror breadcrumbs, the book itself makes no such claims. it identifies itself as a book of ghost stories, and it certainly is that—haunt-

    rather than haunt-

    . even those stories that are more image than text-based evoke a particular moodiness, less horror than nostalgia, where the very nature of photographs as representations or manifestations of something—a moment, a memory—that no longer exists, makes them inherently ghostly.

    so, in terms of ephemera

    ghostiness, this book wins.

    and some of them actually do read as horror stories; a gentle horror where much is implicit or suggested, but it’s there if you go looking. my favorite story was

    , which is a perfect example of subtle horror—it never announces itself but it is undeniably there, in the spooky subtext.

    this is definitely worth reading, but don’t let those horror lists mismanage your expectations. it's simply a beautiful book whose ghosts aren’t trying to scare you or even trying too hard to get your attention. in fact, i couldn’t even locate them in some of these stories, which is identical to my experience with ghosts IRL, so i’m not even ashamed of that fact.

    tl;dr: BOO!!

  • Erika Schoeps

    Disclosure: I won an advance reading copy of this title in a Goodreads giveaway.

    The issue with museums as a novel-loving person is that you rely on the captions. Enjoyment is tempered by a lack of context. I say this in the third person because I'm confident I'm not the only person with this problem.

    is for you if you can relate to this thought.

    is an unorthodox haunted house novel. It's mainly pictures of abandoned rooms and house exterio

    Disclosure: I won an advance reading copy of this title in a Goodreads giveaway.

    The issue with museums as a novel-loving person is that you rely on the captions. Enjoyment is tempered by a lack of context. I say this in the third person because I'm confident I'm not the only person with this problem.

    is for you if you can relate to this thought.

    is an unorthodox haunted house novel. It's mainly pictures of abandoned rooms and house exteriors, but there are also some pictures of the spooked inhabitants too. Some narratives are more straightforward (main character with a story arc), and some are only told in picture captions. Neither text nor picture is privileged over the other in any story. Each exists to balance the other out and provide context.

    This does

    mean that anything is overexplained. It's mysterious, but I still felt as though Shapton often addressed my naturally arising questions.

    A unique lovely aspect of this is the reader's ability to set the pace. Because of the placement of pictures and text in a liberal way (sometimes left-right, sometimes multiple images and captions on a page, sometimes image only), I felt encouraged to take my time and linger, and was never unduly bothered progress in the traditional manner.

    As artful, liberal, and experimental as

    is, I still felt spooked in the traditional way. Some pictures or captions literally had me writing "AIEEEEEEE" in the margins because of the chill it gave me.

    How many times can one reader be spooked throughout by silhouettes, empty rooms, and a character's suspicion that some eerie presence is making itself known? For me, the answer was an infinite amount of times.

  • Chris Haak

    Strange, dark and wonderful!

  • Krista

    So, to begin with, which is the more disquieting idea in that passage above? That your mother wa

    So, to begin with, which is the more disquieting idea in that passage above? That your mother wants to tell you a ghost story or that she chose some toys for your daughter from the trash? Leanne Shapton has an impressive resume as an artist/writer/art director for well-known publications, and she brings all of these talents to

    ; a sort of scrapbook of found photographs, original watercolours, and added prose that leave the reader with an uncanny sense of dread. I suppose that the book's thirty-three entries can be thought of as “short stories”, and they range from the very short (

    is a prose poem made out of the comments on an Instagram-type star's [unshown] photo;

    ) to longish (

    charts the rise and fall of a tennis prodigy and the presence on the court that helps his game and destroys his mind, complete with

    photos and drawings). Some entries read like traditional ghost stories and some seem to suggest the things that haunt us in our modern lives: In

    , another Instagram-style entry, sixteen black and white photos of a woman from the Sixties (?) and a woman from today (is that Shapton herself?) are shown without more commentary than the number of “likes” each receive – and it makes you wonder about the trajectory of photography and who took the photos of the woman from the past, in a time before every pose was meant to be widely shared; stalker or lover, the male gaze haunts these photos.

    In every case, Shapton is telling stories and making art. I had to fight an urge to scroll too quickly through the picture-heavy entries, and taking these slowly proved particularly rewarding.

    (a series of pictures of beds, some from catalogues),

    (posed pictures from celebrity/high society parties all featuring the same man somewhere), and

    (an online catalogue of vintage dresses for sale) each have

    pictures, but also much small print to read; and each of these entries became more sinister and uncanny as they stretched out. In this

    from

    , Shapton explains her inspiration and thought processes behind this book – I especially appreciated the bits about multi-channel storytelling – and I thoroughly respect her ideas and their results. Not your typical read, but all the better for that. (Note: I read an ARC and passages quoted might not be in their final forms.)

  • Brian

    This was such a weird and interesting book that I admit that I didn't completely get. The title, Guest Book appears in letters on the cover..but if you tilt the book slightly, you will see the letters Ghost Stories appear. The book is written in a most unique manner. It is told through a series of photographs, passages and other random methods. Some of the book was so compelling and interesting, most of which revolved around the various photographs, some which gave me legitimate chills. Other pa

    This was such a weird and interesting book that I admit that I didn't completely get. The title, Guest Book appears in letters on the cover..but if you tilt the book slightly, you will see the letters Ghost Stories appear. The book is written in a most unique manner. It is told through a series of photographs, passages and other random methods. Some of the book was so compelling and interesting, most of which revolved around the various photographs, some which gave me legitimate chills. Other parts fell a bit flat for me. I would give this 5 stars in some aspects and one star in others, so I settled in the middle.

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