Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Review: Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans, by Jean deLavigne

First published in 1946, Jeanne deLavigne's excellent "Ghost Stories of Old New Orleans" fell out of print for a long while. In 2013, the Louisiana State University Press remedied that with a new edition, including a foreword by folklorist and LSU Professor Emeritus of English Frank de Caro. As de Caro accurately says of the 40 stories collected in this book, deLavigne "...gave her legends a literary twist, and the tales in [the book] read like literary stories." All of these genuinely eerie (and allegedly true) ghost stories brim with fully developed characters, intricate plots, intimate settings, and great attention to historical detail. The world is full of books of ghost stories, but very few of them are well-written enough to qualify as literature. This one does. (Note: Like all art, this book is a product of its place and time -- readers offended by occasional racial or ethnic slurs might not enjoy this collection.)

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