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Preparing the Ghost : An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer
by Matthew Gavin Frank


Overview - 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.  Read more...

 
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More About Preparing the Ghost by Matthew Gavin Frank
 
 
 
Overview
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."

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780871402837
  • ISBN-10: 0871402831
  • Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
  • Publish Date: July 2014
  • Page Count: 297
  • Dimensions: 7.4 x 4.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.75 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Nature > Marine Life
Books > Photography > Subjects & Themes - Plants & Animals
Books > Photography > Individual Photographers - Essays

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-04-21
  • Reviewer: Staff

In this four-part essay, Frank (Pot Farm) chronicles his research into a 19th-century Newfoundland eccentric who photographed a giant squid, though as a creative work it is less interested in the facts of its subject than in the questions it raises. Readers interested in cryptozoology may be disappointed to find information about the creature spread diffusely throughout the larger narrative, but this is fitting for a subject defined by its elusiveness, a creature of quasi-mythic status and “exaggerated melodrama.” Frank’s inquiry is concerned primarily with the nature of myth and our tendency to “mythologize the actual,” in this case a beast made marvelous by the “fusion of its size and its rarity.” He sifts through historical interest in the squid to ask questions about the nature of empathy, our means for “sharing our obsessions,” and the role of myth as “expression of our greatest semi-imagined fears.” Woven into these big questions are little stories, personal anecdotes, family history, and profiles of contemporary and historic players in the narrative of the giant squid. In this blending of the large and small, Frank sees human lives that are “delicious, disturbing, and downright huge,” and expresses his personal experience with a seldom encountered subject. (July)

 
BAM Customer Reviews