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Grave Goods [Hardcover]

John P O'Grady
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

March 27 2001

"Overheard in a coffee shop the other day, one young woman severely admonishing another about the dangers of amateur séances: 'Just one wrong move, and Poof! Suddenly every dead rock star and TV evangelist is knocking at your door and forcing you to bake ten thousand apple pies. You can’t trust these ghosts. They have a mind of their own.'"
—from the book

Just because this is a collection of essays about psychics, murderers, strange disappearances, and occult phenomena doesn’t mean it isn’t funny. With wit, wry curiosity, and redemptive irony John P. O’Grady peels back the surface of the seemingly normal to reveal the dubious, the inexplicable, the outlandish.

Consider Leo LaHappe, a.k.a. "The Bugman." During a 1970s-era dormitory bull session Leo reveals a strange obsession with Virginia Dare, the first child born of English parents in the New World. His obsession becomes the catalyst for a campus-wide witch hunt at the University of Maine.

Or, what about the beekeeper who knocks on O’Grady’s door. Dressed in his professional gear—boots, coveralls, and dark veil—the man seeks permission to search the author’s woods for his hive. Turns out he hadn’t told the bees about his mother’s death and, sensitive creatures that they are, the bees had run away. "I have to tell them I’m sorry," the beekeeper explains. "I just hope they forgive me and come home."

Grave Goods includes ghost stories, macabre modern legends, and metaphysical investigations, all informed by the natural sciences, history, philosophy, literature, and mythology. From laugh-out-loud funny to eerily thoughtful, these essays reveal the natural world as a place of unnatural surprises and strange beauty. A place where Rip Van Winkle, O’Grady’s college buddies, and ragtag psychics rub shoulders with Buddha, Socrates, and Stephen King—and it all makes perfect sense.

 


Product Details


Product Description

From Library Journal

At the very beginning of this slim volume of essays, author and editor O'Grady (Literature and the Environment) defines the phrase "grave goods" as "objects placed with the deceased on burial," which may include "provisions for the spirit." This last element appears central to the author's intent here. He builds each essay around one or more unusual and entertaining anecdotes, such as an adventure from his college days at the University of Maine at Orono ("Tales of Virginia Dare") or a cemetery removal project in San Francisco ("Grave Goods"). O'Grady then combines underlying themes of spiritual inquiry with his love of nature and his respect for those writers who previously addressed similarly interwoven themes, such as Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold. Recommended for larger public libraries and academic libraries with extensive writing collections. Angela Weiler, SUNY at Morrisville
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Grave Goods is highly serious light reading. It is ‘light’ because it illuminates and because it never takes itself as seriously as its serious subjects. John O’Grady, like any fine scientist, is a first-rate observer. Like any fine writer he makes invisible links between disparate objects and perceptions visible. Reading this book is like walking through the world with a highly knowledgeable naturalist-poet-philosopher. I don’t know your taste in journeys, but this book is mine."—Peter Coyote, poet and actor
 



"John O'Grady is the cream of the next generation of American nature writers. While he is new and experimental and all of that, the pleasure of reading O'Grady's work resides where it always has in any fine writer: engaging the intelligence and imagination of another person through the medium of language. In O'Grady's case, the intelligence is both rigorous and wide-ranging, the imagination downright wild, and all expressed with a wit that arcs between sweetly goofy and canine sharp. Grave Goods is the real goods, natural as a six and five."—Jim Dodge, author of Fup and Not Fade Away
 



"Grave Goods is a first-rate collection, revealing not only the surprising connections between ordinary things, but their metaphysical and philosophical implications as well. His stories, though rooted in everyday reality, stretch our imaginations toward the fantastic and the supernatural."—John Algeo, editor of The Quest

 



"This book is good company, primed with curiosity, energized with irony. You walk and talk with it."—Edward Hoagland, author of Tigers and Ice: Reflections on Nature and Life


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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars succession succeeds June 12 2003
Format:Hardcover
John P. O'Grady has written some igneously curious essays about ghosts and legends and forests and writers. He takes tremendous joy in sharing all the wonderful things he never learned in forestry school but has learned about forests. It is important to note that these essays are quite artful as they unravel or evolve. There is a sense that the stories are too complex, and topics too tangentially related to be unwound in front of a campfire without a map, but still they belong to the forests, of books and trees. Those interested in stories of American spaces will be tickled to find a grand range of locales, Maine, Roanoke, Idaho, New Jersey. O'Grady's undertaking is bonkers and engaging.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trees, Ghosts and History Aug. 28 2001
By "grayhead" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
O'Grady, with a deft touch and encyclopaedic mind, writes a series of essays covering all kinds of uncanny or supernatural circumstances, some amusing, some sad, some perplexing. He debunks where appropriate, but allows the mystery to remain where it belongs. O'Grady has studied forestry, American history and literature, and his own mind in roughly equal measure. Ambling through his material with him is both fun and food for thought, like taking a walk through the forest with a lovably eccentric and erudite friend.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars succession succeeds June 12 2003
By Alvaro Lewis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
John P. O'Grady has written some igneously curious essays about ghosts and legends and forests and writers. He takes tremendous joy in sharing all the wonderful things he never learned in forestry school but has learned about forests. It is important to note that these essays are quite artful as they unravel or evolve. There is a sense that the stories are too complex, and topics too tangentially related to be unwound in front of a campfire without a map, but still they belong to the forests, of books and trees. Those interested in stories of American spaces will be tickled to find a grand range of locales, Maine, Roanoke, Idaho, New Jersey. O'Grady's undertaking is bonkers and engaging.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars visionary and exhilarating!! March 12 2009
By Marc Polonsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
These essay-stories have an effect on the mind like some kind of elixir from an ancient forest. Things sparkle, the world looks different after you read them; you feel more alive. I've never read a book quite like this in my life. I am about halfway through and I find myself reluctant to read on because I don't ever want to finish! Then again, these essays will probably continue to deliver upon second and third readings; they are so rich and refreshing, generous and infectiously exuberant. O'Grady weds highly specific familiarity with nature to a deep, sweeping historical knowledge. The result is precisely the opposite of "scholarly." It's wild. And yet it's also ultimately friendly, perhaps even loving in a kind of impersonal, woodsy, ferocious way. I think if more people read this book, there would be less fear of death and more appreciation of life in our cultural zeitgeist. This book is its own little force of sanity.
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