Guestbook: Ghost Stories

Guestbook: Ghost Stories

by Leanne Shapton


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"Reading [Guestbook] feels akin to walking through an art exhibit, each piece linked in ways that are ineffable but clear. . . yearning, like a ghost, lingers long after the stories are done." —NPR

One of our most imaginative writers and artists explores the visitations that haunt us in the midst of life, and reinvents the very way we narrate experience.

A tennis prodigy collapses after his wins, crediting them to an invisible, not entirely benevolent presence. A series of ghosts appear at their former bedsides, some distraught, some fascinated, to witness their unfamiliar occupants. A woman returns from a visit to Alcatraz with an uncomfortable feeling. The spirit of a prisoner has attached himself to you, a friend tells her. He sensed the sympathy you had for those men. In more than two dozen stories and vignettes, accompanied by an evocative curiosity cabinet of artifacts and images, Guestbook beckons us through the glimmering, unsettling evidence that marks our paths in life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399158186
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/26/2019
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 955,127
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Leanne Shapton is an artist and author of several books, including Swimming Studies (winner of the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography), Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, and a coauthor of the New York Times-bestselling Women in Clothes. She is also the cofounder of J&L Books, a nonprofit publisher of art and photography books. She lives in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

He told me twice about the visitation, once soon after it happened and then again something like thirteen years later. The first time he told me, we were outside and it was cold and I didn’t listen very well. I think I thought to myself: Huh, that’s weird.

The second time he told me, we were inside and we had finished our spaghetti and were drinking some red wine he had brought over, and this time I listened. I listened and heard him try to describe how, suddenly, she was there. We’d both had children by then and were not as close, and though we were lost in some ways, we were not as confused as before.

He told me that suddenly she was there and they had been talking for some time.They were in his studio apartment, and though he couldn’t exactly see her, she was there and seemed to be the same age as she’d been when she died. Which was thirty-three, the age he was then, too. And they were both so lonely and they talked about how she had had babies to be less lonely and for the company and they laughed together at that. He said they just laughed and laughed. And he knew her and he liked her and he loved her.

She had died when he was ten, and most of his memories came from a film a friend of his mother’s had made about her. The filmmaker was a family friend and a famous poet. Famous in Canada.

When the visitation happened, he was living on the Upper East Side and didn’t see much of anyone. He drank.

He said they talked for a couple of hours. The space he lived in was small. It had a platform bed and she was there suddenly, she was impressed and happy that he was living in New York City and she said that she didn’t understand how computers could be so important and how she could see bodies on the radio. Then just as suddenly she was not there anymore and he cried and cried.

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