Books by Jean Williams

Released: June 20, 1991

The fine line between documentary and dream is almost eradicated in this ``true'' haunted-house tale set in the Deep South. Ben and Jean Williams have ``uneasy feelings'' about their new Texas home the moment they discover ants invading their dishwasher. Soon, their toilets self-flush, knickknacks dance, ``freakish storms'' hover over them, flocks of crows attack, pet cats and gerbils go mad, and friends and relatives are stricken with fatal diseases. In relating their ordeal with ``ghostly forms,'' the Williamses get help from free-lancer Shoemaker, whose matter-of- fact, third-person narrative is so clinical and terse it sounds downright funny, if not apocryphal. The obvious homages to horror films give this ``non-fiction'' an ironic tension that may not even be intended. Perhaps the story's greatest conflict is not so much the actual tragedy as the slippery verisimilitude with which it is told. When it shifts to narrating the Williamses' frequent nightmares, ``the leap from the natural to the supernatural'' seems more a literary sleight-of-hand. The most effective concession to ``reality'' occurs when Ben and Jean attempt to sue their realtors for ``Abuse of Corpse'' after they discover that their house was built on a graveyard for black slaves whose angry spirits have apparently raised hell. However, the Williams family is in a ``legal Catch-22'' since they can't prove the graves exist unless they break the law and dig them up. The fact that the book is being pitched as following ``the tradition of The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist'' demonstrates how effective such ``real'' accounts can be when they imitate art. A short and breezy look at horrendous experiences that seems to be haunted by the presence of a ghost-screenwriter. Read full book review >