- J.A. Willoughby
LOCAL GHOST STORIES - Book Review of "The Headless Dog and Other Extraordinary Far-Fetched True
My wife and I have a longstanding tradition: “breakfast readings” that kick our brains into gear along with our morning coffee. These include magazine articles on science, literary, art and film interests, the dining section of the New York Times, and an occasionally, a full length book or short stories. And there is always an ongoing chess game and music playing in the background.
I got the jump on the spirit of Halloween back in March of this year when I traded writings with artists/authors/musicians/historical reenactors, Beverley Conrad and Gregory Burgess. I swapped my This Side of Center – Original Stories, with theirs, The Headless Dog – And Other Extraordinary Far-fetched True Tales of Central Pennsylvania. And I'm glad I did. The short stories served as two weeks worth of our daily, morning breakfast table exchanges.
I am not a believer in “things that go bump in the night” in any way, shape or form. However, for their sheer stimulating entertainment value, I do enjoy the suspense, surprises and plot twists that horror movies and stories have to tell. And this book had the hair on my arm stand on end on more than one occasion. What added some personal interest to the mystique of the tales is that I have been to many of the places mentioned, the restaurants, taverns and towns, without ever knowing the lore. Now, I will be sure to pay closer attention to the ambience the next time I visit.
The Headless Dog And Other Extraordinary Far-fetched True Tales of Central Pennsylvania is a collection of fourteen tales, with illustrations, that are all based in and around central Pennsylvania, specifically the Susquehanna river, its tributaries and towns situated on its banks. In some cases, the places depicted in the book still exist. The main focus of the stories tells of the local gentry having encounters with restless spirits, haunted trailers, headless dogs, Indian tribal lore, and unrequited love that lasts for centuries, all interlaced and woven together with interesting local history facts and historical figures.
Despite the non-standard formatting, the stories are well-written and painstakingly structured, words carefully chosen, paying attention to every detail necessary to pull the reader in and hold their attention. Some anecdotes include personal reflection by the authors with otherworldly local historical entities and strange encounters – in their own home. Although the book was originally printed in 2013 (and a second printing in 2014), four of the tales have been previously published in magazines dating back to 2002.
Told in a classic, ghost story style, these writings are suitable for younger readers and are timeless in their own stylistic way. Local, Susquehanna Valley Pennsylvania history notwithstanding, The Headless Dog... is a welcome addition to any bookshelf, near or far. ~ JW
The Headless Dog – And Other Extraordinary Far-fetched True Tales of Central Pennsylvania
ISBN: 13:978-0-9899382-0-4 - 93 pages - $10.00
Published by Salem Swamp Press, 42 Music Row Lane, Selinsgrove PA 17870