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. Matthew Gavin Frank.

New York: W. W. Norton, 2014. Small octavo, dustwrapper, black and white illustrations.

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' 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' 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. Also available in paperback [stock id 38156].

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