Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

I appear to focusing on the oldies but the goodies, but I am constantly surprised how many people haven't read this first fantasy novel by Beagle--my favorite one.

The book takes place in Yorchester Cemetery in New York, described as "nonsectarian but nervous."  There a talking raven--and usually I don't go for talking animals, but usually they aren't sarcastic ravens--brings food to Jonathan Rebeck, who has lived in the cemetery for years, distancing himself from life in preference to the peacefulness of the dead.  There he talks to and helps the ghosts.  The ghosts arrive with full memories and presence, but slowly wane away to a place unspecified.

Two of those ghosts are Michael and Laura.  Both of them have traumatic memories of their death, though you need to read the book to watch the story unwind.  Even as the two bond to each other in death, Jonathan meets Mrs. Klapper, who comes to visit her husband, and assumes, at first, he is there for a similar reason.

Beagle manages to finesse in a theme without you ever noticing it till the book is done:  It is best to learn love, and live life wherever you find it--may that be death.


  1. I agree, this is one of the finest pieces of fiction I have ever read, regardless of type!

  2. In fact, it often gets shelved in general fiction. Which irks me. It's like we're getto-ized as lowly genre until someone writes something great, and suddenly that means it is mainstream.