Ghost stories tend to be very serious affairs. Who has ever heard of a ghost cracking a joke? I wanted my ghosts to be light-hearted, if not in themselves, at least as they appeared to my hearers. No new style would suit a ghost story, so it would be necessary to parody the usual style. And the parody would have to be affectionate, for cruel parody is distasteful in itself, and utterly outside the spirit of a party.And the stories are mostly light and amusing, I would imagine especially so for those in the audiences for which they were written. If in that audience I am sure we would share in the references to mutual acquaintances, the habits of university life and the local settings within Massey College and Toronto. However, many of the stories still hold up for those of us reading them now, separate from all that. The collection is a bit uneven, however; a few are no longer successful, particularly to my mind the offering entitled The Ugly Spectre of Sexism. It was amazingly old-fashioned, sounding more 1920's than 70's. I guess we really do take for granted the attitude shift since the 70's; at least this is a reminder about that kind of thing.
"I suppose you called up a single spirit, and have received a wholesale delivery; Crowley is a most untrustworthy guide."
"But who are they?" said she.
"It is only too clear that they are the ghosts of the Canadian writers whose books are here," said I.
"Then why are they so noisy?" she asked. Every time I think of it, I realize what a wealth of national feeling was compressed into that one enquiry.
"They are clamouring to be reborn,"I explained... "Look, you see those who are floating in that strange, curled-up posture; they have placed themselves in the foetal position, so that, when a child is conceived, they are ready at once to take possession of it in the womb, and come to earth again."
"Whatever for?" said she.
"Perhaps they hope that this time they might be born American authors," said I.