Skepticism

Ghost

Anyone reading Ghost yet? 

Here are a few reviews to check out if you’re still thinking about whether or not to read it.

  • New York Times Book Review. David finds an adoptive family at the funeral parlor, benevolently ruled by an agoraphobe named Martin. While working in the slumber room, where the embalmed go on view, David glimpses “something” — as maddeningly vague as it is undeniable. Against his will, the single weird encounter soon attracts media attention, the embrace of fringe enthusiasts and condemnation from men of science.

  • San Francisco Chronicle. “I saw something,” he tells us on the novel’s first page. “I think I saw something impossible.” What he saw isn’t described in any sort of detail until very near the end of the novel. (“It was a thing near a dead body. A vapor. But more than a vapor.” Lightman’s novel, then, is a ghost story in which the ghost doesn’t very much matter. It exists so that people can argue about whether or not it exists.
  • Book Page. For the most part, Lightman carefully avoids setting Ghost in an identifiable time or place (some references, and most of the characters’ names suggest England, but terms like “high school” imply it is set here). This choice gives the story a nice timelessness. The opportunities are rife for exploring all kinds of theories and points of view, which Lightman does without allowing the narrative to flag. Indeed, the novel’s greatest strength is that it never squarely comes down on either side of the spiritual divide. Lightman, who himself professes atheism, has a respect for believers that translates into credible, sympathetic characterizations (if anyone is mercilessly lampooned, it is the non-believing academics). David has no philosophical bone to pick, and clearly neither does Lightman, which makes Ghost a thought-provoking novel of ideas that allows us to make up our own minds—assuming we can set aside our own pesky preconceptions. 
  • And, finally, an Interview with Alan Lightman on Literary Traveler. Like my other books, [Ghost is] something that’s been brewing in me for years. It’s about a man who sees a ghost – or he thinks he sees a ghost – he sees something that he doesn’t understand. He doesn’t know exactly whether it’s a ghost, but he sees something that’s definitely supernatural. He believes that he sees this, and it throws his world upside down. Because he doesn’t believe in ghosts; he doesn’t believe in the supernatural, and yet he has this metaphysical experience. And it makes him question the world, everything he knows, question himself. And all his relationships change as a result of this metaphysical experience; his relationship with his girlfriend, with his ex-wife. And the book explores the dividing line between the supernatural world and the sort of scientific world – skepticism and faith, religion and science. Those dichotomies are explored in the book.

writerdd

Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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4 Comments

  1. I enjoyed this book. However, I kept waiting for some character with the voice of reason to appear. Doesn’t he have an ex brother-in-law who works at the university? An ex-coworker who has never missed TAM? Somebody he could voice his questions to that would lead him to search for non woo possibilities. Stress can do strange things.

  2. I just finished it.

    I can’t say that I loved the book but it was thought provoking.

    The voices of reason in the book were made out to be close minded fanatics.

    I was also a little annoyed when David trotted out the “you can’t measure love” BS.

    For someone who was supposed to be skeptical David really fell fast into believing he had special powers.

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