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Ghost Songs
350 pages; Tin House Books
In first grade, Regina McBride learns that the scent of an orange is made of molecules that get into your nose and become part of you, making the boundaries between you and the fruit disappear. "I marvel," she writes, "at how easily something so different, so separate, can invade me." Such infiltrations are legion in this evocative memoir, in which the author, now an adult, sees the ghosts of her embattled parents, Irish Catholics who committed suicide when she was in college. She is haunted, too, by the memories and myths that trespass on her consciousness, dissolving the boundaries between imagination and reality. For a time, she is hospitalized; she tries to express her anguish in an acting class; she travels to her parents' magical Ireland in hopes of eluding her pain. What makes this book so original is the almost uncanny way McBride's narrative blurs the edges between a tortured past and a confusing present. She dares to hope that a half-formed ghost she sees at the foot of her bed is an amalgam of both of her parents, no longer separate—their unconstrained spirit as fluid and searching as her own.
— Cathy Medwick