‘Haunted’ by Walter Mosley

Haunted by Walter Mosley, 2020

The magic trick:

Writing a familiar story that keeps surprising with new plot directions

This one might seem familiar as you go through it. The plot dabbles in recognizable turns – death, regret, oddball magical realism that connects our protagonist’s soul with the man he died hating.

The thing is – the ensuing turns never fail to throw you. Just when you feel things seem so familiar that they’re verging on cliché, the story goes in a slightly different direction that surprises and confounds.

And that’s quite a trick on Mosley’s part.

The selection:

Even as my body rotted and festered under the unblinking eyes of Clark Heinemann, the thoughts I had at death survived. One thousand unpublished stories, 26,473 rejection letters, and all those editorial twits that never gave me a break. The only thing left of me was a raging emotion at every publisher of every insignificant quarterly—but most of all, Clark Heinemann.

“Paul Henry is dead,” a young woman’s voice said from somewhere in the void.

I was suddenly back in proximity to the living; aware, seeing the world from a set of eyes that were a bit stronger than mine had been.

“Who?” The man’s voice seemed to reverberate.

“That guy who has sent us a story every six weeks for the past twenty years.”

“You mean Mr. Again and Again?”

“That’s him.”


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