Saturday, October 19, 2013

Trucker Ghost Stories - Audiobook Review

Editor: Annie Wilder
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert, Peter Ganim
Unabridged Length: 3 h, 44 m
Published by Macmillan Audio, 2012
Genres: Paranormal

From the Publisher
In Annie Wilder's uniquely entertaining book, there are uncanny true tales of haunted highways, weird encounters, and legends of the road.

It may have happened to you; it’s happened to almost everyone who’s ever driven down a highway at night, or in the fog, or snow. Something suddenly appears: a flash of movement, a shadow... what was it? It could be, as the true stories in this book attest, a ghost.

These are true stories from the highways and byways of America. These first-hand accounts are as varied as the storytellers themselves—some are detailed and filled with the terror and suspense that made people feel they had to share what happened to them with others; others are brief and straightforward retellings of truly chilling events. Here is a chupacabra attack on the desert highway between L.A. and Las Vegas; ghost trains and soldiers; UFOs; the prom girl ghost of Alabama; a demon in Texas; and other accounts of the creepy, scary things that truckers and other drivers and passengers told to editor Annie Wilder.

With so many different stories, the Trucker Ghost Stories collection moves beyond the usual haunted house to offer stories to entice any ghost-story listener—and anyone who’s ever wondered.

My Review:

This is a somewhat uneven collection of stories and legends including many that have nothing to do with truckers. Some are very good, some are so-so, and some just seem silly. There are enough good stories to keep it interesting, as all are short. Stories were collected and edited by Annie Wilder. All of the individual stories are in their unabridged and often unpolished forms, although this audiobook has far fewer stories in the collection than what is included in the book format. Some are first person eye-witness accounts and some are simply the telling of legends, with no corroboration. I much preferred listening to the actual stories than the legends. I think a third of the collection could have been edited out and this would have resulted in a nice two-hour collection.

Tavia Gilbert and Peter Ganim narrate these stories.  Gilbert narrates all of the stories from female sources with Ganim handling the narration of the stories from male sources. They both use appropriate regional accents, if that information is indicated. They do a good job making the stories come alive, as quite a few seem like campfire tales. They did the best they could with what they had to work with and I think their story telling skills improve the experience over simply reading the same stories.

Each story starts with a title and ends with the name of the contributor. There are also four tracks of segues between types of stories, giving the set up for each coming group of stories.

Three of the legends caught my attention, as all were set in my native Louisville, KY. I knew all three locations, but the particular stories were new to me. I found it interesting that I had actually been to the exact point of two of them in my youth (while in boy scouts), without knowing the legends. This would have been in 1967-1969. I’ll not spoil the stories but give a little background on these three locations.

Thirteen Trees at Louisville’s Hot Rod Haven  
Hot Rod Haven is on Mitchell Hill in south Jefferson County. I believe this is the highest point in the county. Several broadcasting towers are located at the top of this hill. It was common for youth in the area to speed down the steep narrow winding road from the top of Mitchell Hill heading south; the basic dare to be stupid. There is a pretty sharp curve with a severe drop-off that plays into this legend. At the bottom of the hill, the road flattens out into a long straightaway. There is a cemetery at the top of the hill that legend has it is haunted, from the ghost of someone killed on the hill. Way back when, we were dropped off at the creepy cemetery on top and regularly hiked down the hill (the route of the legend) and around the sharp curve on the 5 miles to our troop’s private scout camp. We hiked along the narrow two lane road that dropped steeply off the hill, the site of the car accidents in the legend. The strange part is that we never had any adult supervision on the hikes.

The Kentucky Train Track Monster
The Pope Lick railroad trestle in east Jefferson County, the setting of this legend, is familiar as we used a farm near its base for a district weekend camp a couple of times. I’ve walked partially across the trestle and played in Pope Lick creek below it. The legend about this monster is sketchy. Folks have died from falling off the trestle, but likely not because of any monster, only due to stupidity. Of course, just because I never saw the Pope Lick “Goat Man” doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist.

Ghost Dogs of Waverly Hills Sanatorium
The long abandoned former sanatorium has always had the legend of being haunted. It was a tuberculosis treatment center opened in 1926 that could accommodate over 400 patients. It was converted to a geriatric hospital in 1961 and closed in 1981. Many patients died there. The place is now privately owned and bills itself as “the most haunted place on Earth.” It has guided tours, paranormal investigations, and is used for Halloween special tours. I’d never heard of the ghost dogs chasing away trespassers, but had always heard the place was haunted. So I learned something from all three Louisville area stories.

While I don’t deny the existence of the paranormal or spirit realm, I’ve never personally encountered it. That said, as I just typed that line, I had a cold chill down my spine and the hair on the back of my head and stubble beard just stood straight up. Very strange, seriously. Anyway, this is a nice set to listen to for Halloween.
From a production standpoint there were quite a few issues. What first got my attention were the errors on the third disc in this set. The track numbers and titles did not match those shown on the actual CD. For example, tracks 51-53 (the three stories set in Louisville) are shown as the final three tracks of the disc. In fact, there are 7 additional stories after these on Disc 3. A quick check showed none of the track lists on the discs matched the actual disc tracks. Also, Christina Delayne is given first narrator billing followed by Peter Ganim and Tavia Gilbert, when the only narrators on the three discs are Ganim and Gilbert.

A review copy of Trucker Ghost Stories was provided by Macmillan Audio through the Solid Gold Reviewer program of Audiobook Jukebox.

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