Saturday, August 05, 2006



Over in today's San Francisco Chronicle, I review Deborah Blum's Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death.

Among those who turn up in the book is Mark Twain, who beneath his crusty surface harbored a hesitant belief in ghosts. He certainly was a haunted man: Caleb Crain gave me a heads-up this week that Twain's annotated copy of Moncure Conway's Autobiography is up for sale. (Alas, it's an eye-watering $35,000). In the margins of Conway's anecdotes about Twain, the bookseller notes this unnerving reflection on mortality: On another page, after noting the names of his childhood friends in Hannibal, Clemens writes, "They are all gone; why were they created?"

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