Snake in The Attic by Garrett Johnson
Garrett is an English professor in Houston Texas who is married with two boys, and has recently moved house. You now know why.
We discussed whether I should do the story in a British or an American accent and we decided that I could do it in my native tones because I could after all have moved to the USA to teach English.
It struck me that the supernatural element in the story, of whether the snake is real or a ghost, is secondary. What the story is, is an exploration of fear. Garret confirms this in the interview.
In the story we explore various phobias We have the fear of rats, of snakes, of the dark, of finding your child harmed in the night. We talked a little about the deep anxiety that comes from being a parent of young children, or in fact children of any age, as mine are grown up and I still worry about them.
In the Snake in the Attic there are also some slice of life elements. The story of the Gandalf type guy wandering around bookshops and sleeping under parks, strikes me as likely to be true observation rather than a figment of writerly imagination.
Also, the story of the addiction and the whole exterminator men seems very realistic, but Garret confirms that this episode is made up.
I’m still not sure whether the snake was real. He has these physical sensations which don’t seem to possibly be from the snake crawling over him, so that leads me to believe, like the exterminators ,that the snake was a figment of his imagination.
The musings about whether the snake can follow him, or staying living of black air and dust.
And the final sentence, wondering about the new occupier of the house and whether the snake will trouble her seems to suggest the snake is a metaphor for deeper disquiets, something that was hinted at earlier on, that the true haunting arises from within our narrator.
Garret Johnson Links
Garret’s story can be found at The Ghost Story website. As he says, there are lots of class stories on this website. Garret particularly mentioned the author Rowan Bowman and his story set in nearby (to me) Northumberland is here.
Garret mentions the work of Andy Paciorek coming out through Wyrd Harvest Press. They have some pretty fantastic publications if you like this kind of thing, which you do, or you wouldn’t be reading this!
Music by The Heartwood Institute
You can listen to the album from which this is taken here