May 9, 2014

Bringing Holiday Horror to the Beeb: a review of "The Christmas Ghost Stories of Lawrence Gordon Clark"

The Christmas Ghost Stories of Lawrence Gordon Clark
edited by Tony Earnshaw
Spectral Press (2013)
168 pages
  • ISBN-10: 095739277X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0957392779

Everyone has their Christmas traditions. Some folks like to go caroling, some have fun finding the most hideous holiday-themed sweaters to wear at parties, some build epic gingerbread houses, but England may have had one of the coolest: Christmas Ghost Stories aired on the BBC.

I live in Canada, and despite some of the wonderful programming to be aired by our own public broadcaster, we never had an annual event like this. Frankly, the scariest thing CBC ever aired during the holidays was The Christmas Raccoons.

The Christmas Ghost Stories of Lawrence Gordon Clark contains seven stories from the late, great M.R. James. Don't know who that is? Well, fix that. Actually, a good way to do that would be through this book, because not only are seven very cool, classic ghost stories in this book, but they're complemented by introductions, photographs, testimonials, and interviews with the man who brought them to TV screens during the 1970s, one Lawrence Gordon Clark.

Now, the reason M.R. James doesn't get much play on the cover is because this book is very much a work dedicated to the man who breathed life into some arguably under-appreciated tales. Maybe it's different in Britain, but M.R. James is but a footnote it seems in the horror genre in North America. It's really heartening to see that Clark took such great care in presenting these stories as best he could back in the 70s, given his limited budgets and time-frames each year. And in turn, it's great to see that Clark's work is memorialized with this book now by Tony Earnshaw and Simon Marshall-Jones.

If you were a fan of those telecasts, you'll be doing yourself a favor in looking up this book, and even if you weren't but you are a horror fan, this is a collection to consider, particularly if you have an appreciation for the history of the genre. As nice as this edition looks, Spectral Press informed me there is a limited edition hardcover as well, and it looks even more delectable.

1 comment:

  1. I love M.R. James - one of my greatest influences as a horror writer. Thanks for this great post!