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Joplin's Ghostby Tananarive Due
Synopses & Reviews
From the award-winning writer of The Good House, The Living Blood, and more, Joplin's Ghost is a chilling tale of a star-in-the-making whose life goes haywire as she is haunted by the ghost of a long-dead music legend.
When Phoenix Smalls was ten, she nearly died at her parents' jazz club when she was crushed by a turn-of-the-century piano. Now twenty-four, Phoenix is launching a career as an R & B singer. She's living the life young artists envy and seems destined for fame and fortune. But a chance visit to a historical site in St. Louis ignites a series of bizarre, erotic encounters with a spirit who may be the King of Ragtime, Scott Joplin.
The music of Scott Joplin is strange enough to the ears of the hip-hop generation, but the idea that these antique sounds are being channeled by the protegee of rap superstar G-Ronn is nothing short of ludicrous.
With growing violence in G-Ronn's inner circle and a ghost bent on living forever through her, Phoenix's life suddenly hangs in the balance. Can the power of her own inner song and the love of a music writer who believes in her give Phoenix the strength to fight to live out her own future? Or will she be trapped forever in Scott Joplin's doomed, tragic past?
"The rumor of a ghost at the Scott Joplin House in St. Louis, Mo., inspired this contemplative supernatural novel, in which a young girl becomes haunted by the specter of the famous ragtime composer. Phoenix Smalls is just 10 when a falling piano nearly kills her; some weeks later, she sleepwalks to its bench and plays Joplin's 'Weeping Willow,' a song well beyond her abilities. With crisp, evocative prose, Due (The Living Blood) juxtaposes Joplin's unhappy life and musical fame in the late 19th century against the struggles of Phoenix, the biracial child of activist, creative parents, in the present day, as, at 24, she tries to make it as an R&B singer. Considering that Joplin's musical career was thwarted by racism, personal loss and illness (he suffered an agonizing death from syphilis), Due has rich material to stir up readers' empathy for the relationship between the ghost and his chosen channel. But the story is also a vehicle for Due's admirable illustration of the musician's dilemma: how to be true to a gift in the face of pressure to create what will sell. Authors face such dilemmas as well; fortunately, Due shows herself true to her own powerful gift. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"In this ambitious and action-packed novel, Tananarive Due blurs genre boundaries as adroitly as her ghost walks through walls. Part love story, part ghost story, part historical fiction, part contemporary urban drama, this book is difficult to categorize — and impossible to put down." Valerie Boyd, author of Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston
"Due does a marvelous job of recreating her characters' worlds, from the half-hopeful, half-fearful lives of black people in the early years of the last century to the bling-obsessed culture at the top of the rap charts....Due conducts suspense at a riveting pace." Detroit Free Press
"Due combines speculative and historical fiction with a splash of romance and contemporary urban drama to produce a great story....The novel serves as a wonderfully imagined work on the trials and tribulations of Joplin..." Orlando Sentinel
"[M]esmerizing as well as well-written....Joplin's Ghost is ultimately a strange book, a successful melding of elements that shouldn't work together but do. In the end, that's good writing." Miami Herald
"Due's writing is spare but incredibly visual. She keeps her flights of fancy grounded to her story....Even while she brings to life Scott Joplin the man, Due makes us appreciate Scott Joplin the icon, the symbol. This understanding gives Joplin's Ghost its haunting power." The Washington Post
An acclaimed suspense writer's latest chilling tale examines how the daughter of a musician and jazz club owner finds her life changed when she becomes haunted by the ghost of Scott Joplin.
When Phoenix Smalls was ten, she nearly died at her parents' jazz club when she was crushed by a turn-of-the-century piano. Now twenty-four, Phoenix is launching a career as an R and B singer. She's living out her dreams and seems destined for fame and fortune. But a chance visit to a historical site in St. Louis ignites a series of bizarre, erotic encounters with a spirit who may be the King of Ragtime, Scott Joplin.
The sound of Scott Joplin is strange enough to the ears of the hip-hop generation. But the idea that these antique sounds are being channeled through Phoenix? Her life is suddenly hanging in the balance. How will she find her true voice and calling? Can the power of her own inner song give Phoenix the strength to fight to live out her own future? Or will she be forever trapped in Scott Joplin's doomed, tragic past? Stunningly original, Joplin's Ghost is a novel filled with art and intrigue — and is sure to bring music to readers' ears.
About the Author
Tananarive Due is a former feature writer and columnist for the Miami Herald and the author of The Living Blood, My Soul to Keep, The Between, and a historical novel, The Black Rose. A former lifelong Floridian, she now lives in Longview, Washington, with her husband, novelist Steven Barnes.
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