I debated whether to add this to the BookBin2015 set or use it to start off my 2016 reads. Technically, I did begin Eric Nuzum’s Giving Up the Ghost: A Story About Friendship, 80s Rock, a Lost Scrap of Paper, and What It Means to Be Haunted in 2015. However, I had barely finished a quarter of it by the time 2016 rolled around. I think it’s fair game to place it in this year since I read most of it in this year, eh?
I picked up Nuzum’s book at the library after reading the description and feeling intrigued by the possibility that it would be a compelling ghost story. I’m always up for those. I was surprised, instead, to discover a truthful, powerful, and oftentimes painful accounting by Nuzum of a time in his life when emotional and mental crumbling led him to believe many things, including that he was haunted. Interspersed with his revelations concerning his youth are modern-day attempts on his part to face the things that scare him, to prove to himself that his expectations are far scarier than what he will encounter in reality. Each chapter intertwines to reveal truths that you suspect are on the horizon but still feel substantial and satisfying when they finally arrive. And it all builds toward a few solid story pinnacles that lack the conclusive weight they might have carried were this a fictional story. However, the truth rarely falls so squarely in line with “happy ending.” Still, it’s a tale perfectly encapsulated by the rather lengthy subtitle…but also surpasses the boundaries of those descriptive yet still insufficient words.
Final Verdict: Nuzum’s book was nothing like what I was expecting, but I felt compelled to continue following Nuzum through his halting, stumbling journey, both of discovery and reflection. I don’t think I would ever add this to my library, but I was pleased to have found it and delighted at how it surprised me with a story I had not anticipated but deeply appreciated.