In Chosen Companions of the Goblin, Kathryn Smith gives us a collection of erasures stemming from the story of the Fox sisters, as collected from The Death-blow to Spiritualism: being the true story of the Fox sisters, as revealed by authority of Margaret Fox Kane and Catherine Fox Jencken by Reuben Briggs Devenport. In 1848, the sisters (along with their older sister managing them) began interpreting noises they heard in their family’s New York farmhouse as messages received from the dead. Soon after they became sought-after Spiritualist mediums. Though, as always, some people were suspicious of the authenticity of their mythical powers. 

Origin of the Fraud

when we were sitting 
in a circle
we could not confess the wrong without
obeying the natural thirst for the marvelous

Smith takes us from science to spiritualism in this book. We can’t help but be pulled into the fascination of the Fox sisters in the same way Smith clearly is. She is shaving off the excess information from the source text and sculpting the essence of who the Fox sisters were and what they did; from how people viewed them to how they viewed themselves, we’re given an intimate look at their effects on the world. I’ll admit that I’m occasionally skeptical of the erasure method, but when a collection like the Chosen Companions of the Goblin comes along it makes me second guess everything I’ve come to believe. Even if the Fox sisters weren’t magical, this book surely is.

Chosen Companions of the Goblin is available from Open Country Press

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