American Ghosts: A Memoir
by David Plante, a review from TLS by Ronald Wright.
"It has been said of David Plante's novels that they can be read but not described. The same is largely true of his memoir, American Ghosts. Waking as a child in terror of a ghostly Indian he imagines at the bottom of the garden, young David is told by his mother 'There's nothing there, nothing, nothing.' But to him 'everything was out there,' and later in life he admits wanting 'to have everything, to have nothing less than everything.' Such a hunger for knowledge and experience is common enough, especially among writers. But although this book seems to promise both a personal and historical quest, it seldom ventures beyond the subjective and imaginary, recoiling from real contact with history, geography, ethnicity or politics. Plante himself is disarmingly frank about this and other shortcomings, telling how he took from his Greek lover Nikos 'the criticism that my great weakness in my writing, as well as in my life, was a self-indulgent lack of engagement with the world.'" Read the entire TLS review.