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 has previously written about everything from wine-making in a tent in Italy to the social hierarchies of a pot farm in California. He teaches creative writing and lives in Marquette, Michigan.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780871402837
ISBN-10: 0871402831
Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publication Date: July 7th, 2014
Pages: 297
Language: English