The place where I live is starting to look more and more like a ghost town with every passing day, and as cabin fever continues, strange imaginings take hold.
So for day 8 of my little project I’ve decided to go with “a ghost for everyone“.
Book: Helen Oyeyemi, The Icarus Girl
Until last year, I had never read a single one of Oyeyemi’s books. But then I picked up her short story collection, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, and she instantly became one of my favourite authors.
I have read most of her published books by now, and not one of them has disappointed in the least. They are all intricate, poetic, brought to life by well-built characters. She has a keen eye for issues of identity, and the double-edged curse and blessing of the uprooted is at the core of all her books.
The Icarus Girl is her debut novel, published in 2005. The novel’s main character is eight-year-old Jess, who leads a strange, often painful inner life. Something is missing at Jess’s core, and so she finds it hard to be present in her own life the way her family expects her to be. When she can’t take things anymore, Jess turns fully inwards, but outwardly this translates as violent meltdown episodes that frighten her parents.
Jess has no friends. Not, at least, until her parents take her on vacation to see her maternal relatives in Nigeria. There, she does make a friend. A secret friend who is able to follow her everywhere, even across continents, and to make all of Jess’s wishes come true. But not everything Jess’s friend does sits well with Jess, who would rather not see some of the things her friend keeps showing her, and rather not do some of the things her friend is making her do.
But this friend, whom no one else is ever able to see, pulls her like a magnet, away from the people Jess loves, towards a place that Jess does not understand.
Film: Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca
There are many cinematic adaptations of Daphne du Maurier’s iconic Rebecca — the one I have in mind was produced by iTV (director: Jim O’Brien, screenplay: Arthur Hopcraft) in 1997 and initially released as a miniseries.
I watched this adaptation before I’d read du Maurier’s novel, and it was an experience all unto itself, with Diana Rigg making for a spine-chilling Mrs Danvers, and Emilia Fox a staggeringly innocent second wife for a credibly haunted Maxim De Winter, played by Charles Dance.
Of course, having now read the novel, I can tell that the screenwriter and director made some specific choices in their retelling of the original story — they also made some striking additions that created further dimensionality for some of the characters.
In any case, this adaptation plays tastefully with Rebecca‘s ghost story undertones, which is what has made me love it.
While the film/ miniseries doesn’t seem to be available to watch/ rent online, copies of the DVD appear to be readily available to order.
Game: The Supper
This is a short computer game that took me less than half an hour to finish, yet it was so brilliantly designed that it really stuck with me.
The game was developed by Octavi Navarro and released earlier this year. It is a point-and-click adventure game whose visual style reminds me of nothing as much as of The City of Lost Children (the game) from 1997.
In The Supper, you play a quaint old lady who runs the inn of a ghost town by the sea. The lady, called Ms Appleton, is urged insistently by a mysterious voice to hurry up and find the necessary ingredients to prepare dinner for her imminent guests. The ingredients, of course, are gruesome, and the guests freakish.
What happens when dinner is ready, and where does the voice come from? To find out you can download and play the game on Steam, for free.