Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer

Preparing the Ghost An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer Charmingly eccentric and utterly unforgettablewith hand on heart I can truly say that I also loved every word of it Simon Winchester author of The Professor and the Madman and Krakatoa The Day the Wo

  • Title: Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer
  • Author: Matthew Gavin Frank
  • ISBN: 9780871402837
  • Page: 377
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Charmingly eccentric and utterly unforgettablewith hand on heart I can truly say that I also loved every word of it Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman and Krakatoa The Day the World Exploded Moses Harvey was the eccentric Newfoundland reverend and amateur naturalist who first photographed the near mythic giant squid in 1874, draping it over a s Charmingly eccentric and utterly unforgettablewith hand on heart I can truly say that I also loved every word of it Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman and Krakatoa The Day the World Exploded Moses Harvey was the eccentric Newfoundland reverend and amateur naturalist who first photographed the near mythic giant squid in 1874, draping it over a shower curtain rod to display its magnitude In Preparing the Ghost, what begins as Moses s story becomes much , as fellow squid enthusiast Matthew Gavin Frank boldly winds his narrative tentacles around history, creative nonfiction, science, memoir, and meditations about the interrelated nature of them all In a full hearted, lyrical style reminiscent of Geoff Dyer, Frank weaves in playful forays about his research trip to Moses s Newfoundland home, Frank s own childhood and family history, and a catalog of bizarre facts and lists that recall Melville s story of obsession with another deep sea dwelling leviathan Though Frank is armed with impressive research, what he can t know about Harvey he fictionalizes, quite explicitly, as a way of both illuminating the scene and exploring his central theme the big, beautiful human impulse to obsess Matthew Gavin Frank has made a book into a curiosity cabinet, one dedicated to the storied giant squid A mysterious but seductive mix of history, creative non fiction, memoir, and poetry, Preparing the Ghost is written with contagious passion In this original book, Frank weaves his imagination through history s gaps, and keeps the reader riveted with the lure of the unknown and dark, sultry prose Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise Preparing the Ghost is the most original book I have read in years Opening with an arresting image that literally haunts him, Matthew Gavin Frank unstrings history and reweaves a narrative from its threads, from fiction and news reporting and his own life, to remind us that every experience is a story braid To remind us that life and love and death all are beauty Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Chronology of Water and Dora A Headcase Preparing the Ghost is a triumph of obsession, a masterful weaving of myth and science, of exploration and mystery, of love and nature Here Matthew Gavin Frank delivers my favorite book length essay since John D Agata s About a Mountain, and with it he stakes a claim to his own share of the new territory being forged by such innovators of the lyric essay as Eula Biss and Ander Monson Matt Bell, author of In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods Inventive, original, and endlessly interesting, Preparing the Ghost is a gorgeous exploration of myth, history, language, and imagination, all swirling around the mysterious and evocative figure of the giant squid This book is a journey through passion, obsession, fear, and adventure, and the hunger to behold what lurks within the depths of the sea To look into a squid s eyes is like looking into infinity, one squid obsessed character declares, as Matthew Gavin Frank leads us deeper and deeper into this dazzling account of strangeness, and danger, and the longing to see Catherine Chung, author of Forgotten Country Preparing the Ghost reads like a cross between Walt Whitman and a fever dream Who would think squid and ice cream go together I remained riveted to the very last word Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig The shortest distance between two people is a great story This one is incredible You will embrace Preparing the Ghost like a friend you won t want to leave Bob Dotson, New York Times bestselling author of American Story A Lifetime Search for Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things Matthew Gavin Frank reinvents the art of research in extraordinarily imaginative ways His meditation on the briefly known and the forever unknowable courts lore both family and creaturely , invites the fantastical, heeds fact, and turns the human drive to notate and list into a gesture of lyrical beauty Lia Purpura, author of On Looking and Rough Likeness

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      Published :2019-04-02T00:50:37+00:00

    One thought on “Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer”

    1. Unusual and entertaining, Preparing the Ghost is an original essay of creative nonfiction. An investigation, memoir, science, myth, history, and ice cream come to play in this wonderfully strange account of "the giant squid and it's first photographer." I went in to it expecting one thing, and left completely surprised. I would highly recommend this book-length essay to fans ofConsider the Lobster (specifically that essay) but that's all I can really compare it to. Even though I'm a lifelong gia [...]

    2. This is a great example of how creative non-fiction can be engaging and witty and artistic. That being said, this book would have been so much better if it had cut 100 pages from its mass.

    3. On the bottom of page 268, I wrote, "How do we write, speculate, (and live with) what we (no one) can possibly know?" Such is the compelling question asked by Matthew Gavin Frank. Lots of "Wow"s, "Whoa"s, and "Hmmmmmm"s. in the margins, too.

    4. The first disclaimer here is that I've also read Pot Farm by MGF, and I loved it. So that says something about my taste and expectations. The second disclaimer is that I have had food and drink with the author and I enjoyed myself while doing so. The third disclaimer is that I've read things by authors I adore that I would never in a million years recommend to anyone else (True at First Light by Hem-dog), and I've eaten food and pounded beers and had a downright debauching good time with writers [...]

    5. Reading this was like listening to a schizophrenic tell you about the dream he had last night. The only real storyline is the author's trip to Newfoundland to find out what he could about the first man to photograph a Giant Squid washed up on one of the beaches there, but he wanders far afield, to say the least. Some of the sentences are so long, with so many dependent clauses that have nothing whatsofrikkinever to do with what I thought he was talking about, that I was forced to go back & r [...]

    6. Delightfully unexpected! Yes, it contains the biography of Moses Harvey, the first man to obtain a photograph of a giant squid, but from that jumping off point the discussion alights on topics ranging from family, death, insects, ice cream, pain, guilt, commerce, obsession, otherness, and mythology. Miraculously, no matter how bizarre the subject matter, Frank connects each element so organically that it seems perfectly natural that the giant squid, butterflies, and death by chocolate ice cream [...]

    7. I started reading this in July 2014. School and students and travel and life made its finishing a lengthy timeline. But, this is not a book that allows swift passage. It needs breathing room, it needs time. It needs to get in you and rest a bit. Matt Frank here has crafted a book-length essay that is part elegy and part song, something that takes its subject and transforms it into something in meaning beyond what was already there. This is what nonfiction, I think, ought to do. This book, you mu [...]

    8. This was very close to being a two-star rating, but Frank finally hooked me (so to speak) in the final 50 pages. Up to that point, it's just a bit too rambly and freewheeling for my taste. It's unquestionably well-written and -crafted, but it definitely tried my patience for a couple of hundred pages. Definitely goes on the "it's not you, it's me" shelf. And now I really want to read a book that's properly about the giant squid.

    9. While the idea of the book is intriguing, I struggled to finish this book. The essay is about the giant squid and its first photographer, Moses Harvey. Parts of the book were informative. However, in my opinion the author got distracted and digressed in topics that were a far stretch from the purpose of the essay, which is the squid and its photographer.

    10. Needs more squid More mythology too. It was enjoyable but too often I felt like I was at a concert where the musician was only playing difficult pieces to impress with his virtuosity rather than to entertain. " the half moon frowned,voltaic, longing for it's other half ," is a little too consciously poetic for me.

    11. Historical nonfiction, scientific exploration, and stream-of-consciousness musings on the nature of love, obsession, life, and death. This book may be a bit weird/admittedly kinda pretentious for some, but I think it's perfect.

    12. I love the concept and I love, in theory, the approach -- and I thought I was going to love this because I'm a big fan of creative nonfiction in this vein.But the execution made for a sloppy and distracted reading experience for me, unfortunately.

    13. I have been wanting to read this book for years and finally made it a point to order it earlier this month. To say the least, I wasn't disappointed. I loved the style of this book, its laughter, and its honest obsessions. Highly recommended.

    14. It reads like a Rebecca Solnit style book about the search for the first photographer of the giant squid (and other things, always other things). I liked it but I agree that it could have been more robust if a bit shorter. I need to read more fiction.

    15. Not a book for learning anything about giant squid. The author has written a book that meshes beat poetry, fiction and biography. Not for everyone as it feels like more of an exercise in writing than meant for reading. Still though I found it interesting.

    16. A giant essay about the giant squid that mixes science, poetry, history and personal memoir with its ink.

    17. "Now for the R! Up we go! Attach! Descend! Pay out the line! Whoa! Attach! Good! Up you go! Repeat! Attach! Descend! Pay out line. Whoa, girl! Steady now! Attach! Climb! Attach! Over to the right! Pay out line! Attach! Now right and down and swing that loop and around and around! Now in to the left! Attach! Climb! Repeat! O.K.! Easy, keep those lines together! Now, then, out and down for the leg of the R! Pay out line! Whoa! Attach! Ascend! Repeat! Good girl!"That's Charlotte in E. B. White's Ch [...]

    18. This book. I'm going to try to explain why I loved it instead of making a cryptic comment about ice cream. Rather than a book about giant squid, or a biography of someone who orchestrated the first photo of the giant squid, or an essay about both of those things, this is a book about obsession. The writer's obsession with an animal (and a man) bleeding into ordinary life, his ordinary life bleeding into a larger story about why we feel compelled to dramatize our ordinary lives so grandly into un [...]

    19. "Can we ever really kill a myth?" author Matthew Gavin Frank asks in Preparing the Ghost. "Even though the giant squid has long been proved actual, the beast retains the mythological narrative, can't shake its sea-monster designation. The legend lives on."It's the idea of myths and legends that is explored in Frank's newest book. Yes, the cover sports a subtitle, "An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer." And yes, the book starts out in a typical linear narrative with an i [...]

    20. From Shelf Awareness (7/15/14):Preparing the Ghost takes its name from an infantile stage of a squid's growth cycle, a tiny iteration of a potential behemoth. In Latin, this stage is called paralarva (para, "to make ready," and larva, "a ghost"). How fitting that such a small creature is already primed for its destiny as something larger than life, more specter than species. Matthew Gavin Frank's exploration of the giant squid's shadow on the human psyche takes on equal grandeur, veering from fa [...]

    21. The subtitle of Matthew Gavin Frank's book length essay about the nature of the myth that surrounds the giant squid does not do justice to the contents of these pages. Although the editor can easily be forgiven for not being able to sum up the nature of Frank's writing in a succinct enough sentence.This book looks at myth building and the nature of obsession through the lens of Moses Harvey's pursuit of his giant squid, and does in a bewildering fashion. I was regularly shocked at how easily Fra [...]

    22. I save 1-star reviews for books I start but don't want to finish. For some reason I picked this book up thinking it was a memoir, or at least a somewhat factual account of Moses Harvey, the man who was the first to photograph the giant squid. I was eager to read about this man and the squid and their respective histories. But this book is not about facts. This book is a creative writing exercise, full of random ruminations, with a loose focus on the nature of obsession. Reading the in-book revie [...]

    23. I would have loved this book about twelve years ago, which is when it would have been "strikingly original," as the blurbs say. But reading it in 2015, I found it derivative and falling short in the long-lyrical-creative-nonfiction category. MGF had a great topic, a clever conceit (all the layers of myth and myth-making, which he does some brilliant things with regarding speculation and imaginative re-creations of what Harvey was doing with the squid corpse) and yes he has the talent for the occ [...]

    24. Matthew Gavin Frank's Preparing the Ghost is an entertaining discourse on the Giant Squid's unshakable status as a mythological being. The essay is structured around the life of the first known giant squid photographer, Rev. Moses Harvey, whose obsession with his found cephalopod carcass gives Frank both a point of temporal comparison of the animal's prestige and an excuse for a deep vein of research into Harvey's life. This approach established, however, Frank speculates too freely about Harvey [...]

    25. I gave my star review with hesitation because this book didn't neatly line up with my rules for saying whether I liked a book or not. There's a story, of sorts, that holds the book together, about Moses Harvey and the first photograph of a complete giant squid carcass. But sprinkled between the vignettes that make up the story, there are facts and musings that are sometimes about the giant squid, but more often tangential to the squid itself. I think that I liked this book, but I may have liked [...]

    26. I almost never write reviews. I feel compelled to. This is utter pretentious codswallop. I'm not sure how it got published. I struggled, but I finished it. Listen, the central flaw: If it's not all true (and it's not) then which parts are? Is any of it? Frank clearly bothered to research the subject, traveled for his research but did he. He did. Did he? If I can discount some of it, I might as well discount all of it. Absences in the record don't allow us to fill them ourselves. We just have to [...]

    27. I loved this book. If you're looking for a dry account of facts, you're not going to find it here. Instead, imagine you're walking the cobblestone streets in Newfoundland by the ocean late at night with an old friend who's maybe a little bit obsessive and mad in the Mad Hatter sort of way, and maybe you've both had a little something to drink, and the stories begin to roll. Wildly entertaining while somehow deeply haunting. I can't say enough good things about this book.

    28. PREPARING THE GHOST teems with mysterious cephalopods; eccentric nineteenth-century Canadian naturalists and twentieth-century Jewish grandparents; heady meditations on mythmaking and immigrant identity; deft homages to Melville, Kafka, Faulkner, and Joyce; a fair amount of ice cream; history, philosophy, memoir, dream -- all delivered in deliciously digressive prose. A superbly strange beach read like no other.

    29. This book sounded fascinating. Normally, I love one-topic non-fiction, and I don't know much about giant squid, so I thought I'd give it a go. Especially since Simon Winchester, whose writing I love, gave it such glowing reviews! Unfortunately, once I started reading it, it was just blah. It left me completely cold. I got about 35 pages in and realized that I just did not care.This is going on my "just can't finish it" shelf.

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