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

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Staff Reviews

Matthew Gavin Frank's Preparing the Ghost is a beautiful and meandering essay on that most haunting creature, the elusive giant squid. Written with the page-turning urgency of a novel, this was one of my favorite books of 2014 and one that, a year later, is still fresh in my memory.

— Sparks


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 more, 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.

About the Author

Matthew Gavin Frank is the author of the food-and-wine memoir Barolo (University of Nebraska Press), the poetry collections WARRANTY IN ZULU (Barrow Street Press) and Sagittarius Agitprop (Black Lawrence Press/Dzanc Books), and the chapbooks Four Hours to Mpumalanga (Pudding House Publications) and Aardvark (West Town Press). His work has appeared in The New Republic, FIELD, Epoch, The Huffington Post, Crazyhorse, Indiana Review, The Poetry Foundation, North American Review, Pleiades, The Best Food Writing and The Best Travel Writing anthologies, Creative Nonfiction, Gastronomica, Plate Magazine, and others. He teaches creative writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780871402837
ISBN-10: 0871402831
Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publication Date: July 7th, 2014
Pages: 297
Language: English