Monday, October 15, 2012

Reader's Diary #879- Gertrude Atherton: The Striding Place

I was listening to Ray Parker Jr.'s Ghostbusters yesterday— because it's that time of year— and I was having fun with trying to take the song seriously. What if, instead of just being a stupid soundtrack to a horror/comedy movie, it was about a girl trying to get over a break-up? What if the "ghostbuster" was the guy trying to help her get over the memory (i.e., the ghost) of a previous relationship? Nah, I know it was just frivolous pop music.

But in "The Striding Place," Gertrude Atherton does try to up the ante on the ghost story by turning it into a soul versus the body discourse. It follows a man named Wiegell who is on a grouse hunting trip with some friends. It's an annual trip but this year's has not been particularly great. The weather is damp, the grouse have been few, and the women accompanying them are somewhat dull. Wiegell's heart just isn't in it. But he has even more of a reason than the rest: his close friend Wyatt Gifford had disappeared a couple days earlier. So when the other hunters go off to sleep, Wiegell is restless and goes off into the woods in search of his friend.

I can't state how it ends, but it's a bit of a shock and kind of confusing. I'm not exactly sure what happened, but I think the key lies within a recollection of a conversation between Wiegell and Gifford, wherein the latter expressed his belief that the soul and the body were independent of one another. He is so convinced of it that he expresses his desire to prove it. Whether he did just that at the end or not is a bit of a mystery but it's creepy nonetheless and has a eerie feeling throughout, so it's perfect if you want a head-scratcher for this time of year. Consider it the trick. "Ghostbusters" can be the treat.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)

1 comment:

John Mutford said...

Somehow I missed this when Read Handed review this one for Short Story Monday in July of last year, but you can read her review here. Her review makes me reconsider if the ending wasn't part of a practical joke. Where are Scooby-doo and the rest of those meddling kids when you really need them?