[fusion_builder_container backgroundcolor=”” backgroundimage=”” backgroundrepeat=”no-repeat” backgroundposition=”left top” backgroundattachment=”scroll” video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” bordersize=”0px” bordercolor=”” borderstyle=”” paddingtop=”20px” paddingbottom=”20px” paddingleft=”0px” paddingright=”0px” menu_anchor=”” equal_height_columns=”no” hundred_percent=”no” class=”” id=””][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_text]Author Hannah Nordhaus has substantial credits to her name: author of the national bestseller The Beekeeper’s Lament and award-winning journalist for publications such as the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times, and the Village Voice.
Perhaps that is where her strength lies – in the occupation of reporting. The best journalists are solid researchers as Nordhaus is. She does quite well at uncovering bits of buried clues and information concerning her American Ghost, long dead great, great grandmother Julia Schuster Staab. From consulting psychics and archives to trailing Julia’s trek from Germany to Santa Fe and back again, the author conducts an admirable investigation into her spectral ancestor’s reasons for appearing sporadically at Santa Fe’s La Posada hotel.
As someone who loves a good ghost story, the CD’s jacket boasting a tale of “A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest” was all I needed to check it out and pop it into the CD player. How great was my frustration when I found myself shouting at the dashboard – not once, not twice, but too many times to count – I want to hurl! If it were not for a commitment to provide a Staff Recommendation, Becky Masterman’s Fear the Darkness would have quickly replaced this “larger tale of how a true-life story becomes a ghost story.”
In the words of Gertrude Stein, there is no there there. If you’re looking for a ghost, or even a semblance of a ghost story, it’s not here. American Ghost is a memoir of Nordhaus’ attempt to capitalize on having a ghost in the family tree. Some employees and guests at a hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, reported seeing a ghost. Some believe it to be the former occupant who was the wife of a prominent 19th century businessman, who both happen to be her ancestors. There is no way to prove there is/was a ghost or who the supposed ghost was/is. Period. End of story.
Genealogists may find it an interesting journey; although most genealogists I know wouldn’t use medical marijuana to try and channel a dead grandparent. The resulting scene of admitted paranoia is worthy of a 1970s SNL parody. Why, pray tell, do I need to hear ad nauseum about the burden Franz Kafka “felt . . . of his father’s expectations”? Or care about trivial descriptions of the time “my mother and I wandered the restaurant district browsing menus”? And, please, the unoriginal writing: “The Indians were hidden in the trees across a small stream, shooting their arrows; the priests and teamsters returned fire with guns. It was hot, and the travelers ran out of water.” (Are you asking yourself why marijuana, Franz Kafka, and Indians are relevant?)
What put me over the edge and stuck in my mind like a one-hit wonder was, “The archives resided at the tippy-top of the tower. . .” The tippy-top? Tippy-top? That’s your best shot at describing a neo-Gothic spire of a German town library? I want to hurl.
Kudos, I think, to reader Xe Sands who perhaps tries too hard to bring emotion and life to emotionless writing. Curious, then, how strongly American Ghost elicited such strong emotion in this listener. I believe I set a personal record for amount of time spent gesticulating and shouting while driving to and from work. My apologies to anyone witnessing an agitated woman behind the wheel. . . it was only an audio book.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]