Caitlin's Reviews > Giving Up the Ghost: A Story About Friendship, 80s Rock, a Lost Scrap of Paper, and What It Means to Be Haunted

Giving Up the Ghost by Eric Nuzum
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Aug 15, 12

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012

One of the best things about Giving up the Ghost is that it is not the memoir you expect. From the publisher's description it sounds like it's going to be sort of a search for information about his friend, but mostly a somewhat serious/somewhat silly romp through paranormal places. It's not that. Not even close.

If you were ever different as a kid, ever bullied or just shunned by the other kids around you, you're left with two basic choices: conform or defy them. Mr. Nuzum chose to defy his classmates and it's a choice I can relate to because I also steadfastly refused to conform and made a lot of bad choices along the way. It was very easy to me to relate to Mr. Nuzum, stuck in small town Ohio, wanting something different, but not sure what, doing too much damage to yourself along the way. I was fortunate because my early bout with depression was caught at its beginning and I was very fortunate to see a wonderful therapist where I was first in college. At that time there weren't a lot of anti-depressant options, but she saw me three times a week, listened to me, guided me firmly, and helped me talk my way through to the other side. I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't had her help.

We all know what it's like to be haunted, I think - by people or places or dreams that never came true - something about all the possibilities that didn't reach their potential sticks with us. It is all of that that is so hard to forget. Mr. Nuzum's brutally honest memoir takes the reader through one person's life (so far) and that person's attempts at self-destruction and ultimate desire to be whole. While I'm not sure he reached the conclusions he might've wanted, the journey is interesting and I'm glad he chose to share it. Lots of people have similar pasts, similar ghosts, but not everyone writes about it with such straightforward honesty. A good, if sometimes difficult, read.
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