’31 Tales of Terror’ #9: The Mystery of My Grandmother’s Hair Sofa

*Title: The Mystery of My Grandmother’s Hair Sofa by John Kendrick Bangs
Date Read: 22 October 2008
Available Online?: YES
Briefly: The narrator, seemingly familiar with ghostly encounters, stays awake into the small hours while his family is asleep, in the hope of coaxing out a ghost of whom he can write about.
Afterthoughts: Ostentatious prose, a rambling storyline and little in the way of ‘dramatic incident’ made this a largely insipid story for me. I saw what the author was aiming for – a satirical slant on ghost stories, but it didn’t really work for me. Maybe I’m just not clever enough for this kind of story. I did however enjoy the narrator’s discussion on using the bed covers to hide one’s face from ghosts – very witty!
Notable Quote: “I have observed that others who have been haunted unpleasantly have suffered in proportion to their failure to take what has always seemed to me to be the most natural course in the world—to hide their heads beneath the bed-covering. Brutus, when Caesar’s ghost appeared beside his couch, before the battle of Philippi, sat up and stared upon the horrid apparition, and suffered correspondingly, when it would have been much easier and more natural to put his head under his pillow, and so shut out the unpleasant spectacle. That is the course I have invariably pursued, and it has never failed me. The most luminous ghost man ever saw is utterly powerless to shine through a comfortably stuffed pillow, or the usual Christmas-time quota of woollen blankets.”

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

*Story read as part of the 31 Tales of Terror reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. It sounds like the best thing about this one is the title!

  2. Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

    Don’t take my word for it Shelley. Memory (who picked it) loves it! So it may just be me.


  1. […] promotes this notion to a highly readable and enjoyable level. I didn’t particularly care for the other Bangs story in this challenge, but this one is a definite highlight. Absolutely terrifying? No! Absolutely hilarious? YES! […]

  2. […] you’d expect, and nothing like you could predict, but it’s surprisingly entertaining. I may not have cared for his Mystery of My Grandmother’s Hair Sofa tale too terribly, but I’m definitely warming to […]