Casper by Gwen Kirby

It made me want to come back for more stories from this anthology…

Reading Reading Cover

The Reading Room is a log of my “writer-as-reader” reactions to the short stories I’m reading now.

The author captures the voice and interior voice of teenage girls really well. In this story three teens are working at a store that resells items from lost baggage — the major industry in their town (!).

These girls don’t work at the most popular lost bagagge store, the one that draws all the visitors. Their is a down-market, knock-off version of it.

Each girl has her own place in the social pecking order, her own dreams for the future, and all this unspools quite naturally.

Interestingly, Kirby ignores the common wisdom that a story has to have a strong point-of-view character and that shifts in perspective must be clearly offset; that an omniscient narrator is a no-no….and it works. I’m going to have to go back and read this again to see why.


Kirby is a master of pulling me into the story.

“The girls of the Unclaimed Baggage Dept—Greenleaf, Alabama’s second-best and only other unclaimed baggage story– found Casper in a lime green suitcase.”

Look at the details!! It’s not just a store, it’s the “Unclaimed Baggage Depot–Greenleaf, Alabama’s second best and only other unclaimed baggage store.” It’s not just a suitcase, it’s a lime green suitcase.

We don’t know what or who Casper is. We have to keep reading.

Imagine if this read

“One Monday morning in summer, the girls who worked at an unclaimed baggage store found a [SPOILER ALERT] taxidermized albino wallaby in a suitcase.”

Still an intriguing premise, but ho-hum execution. You’ll have to work MUCH harder to get me to keep reading.


We zig zag between the girls’ hopes and dreams as they first figure out what to do with Casper and deal with the consequences of their actions.

Each scene builds up a stronger picture the girls, individually, and in relation to each other and their town.


….was a bit unexpected and I’m not sure how I feel about it. My favorite way to feel about a short story!


Takes us solidly into the perspective of the girl who is most active in the climax, and gives us a really interesting perspective to chew on (from her point of view; her reaction to events) as we close the book or turn the page. I wouldn’t call it a ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ ending, but I was satisfied.

It made me want to come back for more stories from this anthology…but not yet. I want to savor this one for a moment.

Find this story in Sh*t Cassandra Saw by Gwen Kirby

2 thoughts on “Casper by Gwen Kirby”

  1. I liked the title because I remember, with fondness, Casper the Friendly Ghost 😉

    There are a number of stories in this collection that deal really well with teenage interior lives. Recommended!

    (and thanks for the kind words)

  2. Interesting title, though I don’t believe it would make me want to pick it up. What do you think about the title? The opening sentence is intriguing as well as the unique setting. I’m working on an adult novel that centers around a triangular friendship of teen girls, so I might be interested in taking a look. I really like the way you review as well as look at the craft.

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