Tales of Kentucky Ghosts

Article excerpt

Tales of Kentucky Ghosts. By William Lynwood Montell. (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2010. Pp. 210, acknowledgments, introduction, index of stories by county. $24.95 cloth.)

Tales of Kentucky Ghosts is a collection of ghost stories organized into ten different categories based on the content of the narrative. A short introduction explains that, because of requests from numerous readers of his other collections, Montell both collected the stories himself and compiled them from archives. The introduction also contains a brief description of the significance of oral narratives about the supernatural. Montell urges readers to suspend their disbelief in the supernatural in order to approach the stories with an open mind, and he provides a brief description of the importance of the tale swapping sessions that generate narratives about die supernatural. Each collected narrative is marked with the name of die county in Kentucky where die event occurred, the name of die storyteller, the location of collection, and date of collection. This provides die only contextual information for die stories, which lack any furdier description of die context of the narrative event. All the stories in the collection are newly published and were collected when Montell drove around die state to solicit diem, made telephone requests for stories, and obtained stories from staff members at college and university archives.

Stories in die collection range from W.P.A. reports collected in 1936 to narratives as current as 2008. This is a benefit of die collection, since it allows die reader to examine similarities between narratives from different time periods in similar geographical locations and by type. An index in die back of the volume organizes stories in die collection by county. This enhances understanding of die material for the reader who is familiar with die landscape of Kentucky and provides a reference for diose readers who are not. Each section of the collection, such as Headless Ghosts, Civil War Ghosts, and Return of Family Members as Ghosts present the stories in non-chronological order, moving between stories collected at different times. Since die date is at die end of each individual collection, die jump between time periods from story to story in each section of die collection can be disorienting to die reader. …