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by P. B.

THIS BOOK IS an excellent example of the successful realization of a felicitous idea. Who would have thought that a collection of Canadian ghost stories would have been possible, let alone make entrancing reading? Yet, as the editor Alberto Manguel writes in his introduction to The Oxford Book of Canadian Ghost Stories (Oxford University Press, 276 pages, $16.95 paper), "by the turn of the century the ghost story ... was well recognized enough in Canada" for Stephen Leacock to lampoon it in a witty story titled "Buggam Grange." Today, according to Manguel, what distinguishes the Canadian ghost story is its "universality," in contrast to "British and American ghosts," which "seldom travel." There are 26 stories in this collection, ranging from a tale of the dreaded Quebecois witch La Corriveau by Philippe de Gaspe, through elegant contributions by the likes of Brian Moore, Margaret Atwood, Mavis Gallant, and Robertson Davies to a contemporary story set in Bombay, by Rohinton Mistry. Inevitably, some of these stories will be familiar. It is good to find them collected here, however, in company with enough surprises to keep any reader happily spooked.

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