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Book Review: 'The Norton Book of Ghost Stories'

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From an original ghost-in-a-sheet classic by M.R. James — and if you don’t sleep on the couch without blankets after that one, you have no brain — to a gruesome little confection by Penelope Fitzgerald, this anthology will keep you up way past your bedtime. Leithauser has included Henry James, Edith Wharton, and the very best from modern writers, including a heartbreaker from A.S. Byatt (telling us what the ghosts of children do all day). Leithauser’s otherwise good judgment does stumble in the introduction, which features ponderous statements like ”Wherever in the psyche trauma resides, there also will be located projections of alternate or modified realities.” So skip the introduction, savor the rest, and don’t let your feet hang out of the bed while you read. Something underneath might be hungry. A-