Since the 90s, I'd heard murmurings of a fabled book called "Ghosts From Our Past" by two aspiring parapsychologists. I'd checked libraries, local used bookstores, even private collectors, but the book was harder to find than parking in Los Angeles. I had thought the book might have been scarce due to a limited print run, or because the book was so well-regarded that all copies were snatched up as quickly as they could be printed. But, as it seems, it was because the book itself had been buried by the publisher like Atari's E.T. cartridge. Luckily, given the recent events that have taken place in New York City, and the newfound notoriety of the book's authors, Erin Gilbert and Abby L. Yates, the book has been newly revised and with the help of editor Andrew Shaffer, is once again in circulation and readily available.
Given that this book had been my Rosebud, my whale, imagine my bewilderment when a copy of it arrived for review from its publisher. With great delight, I tore into the tome and poured over every page. And boy, was it worth the decades long wait... Even if the hired help spilled some sort of disgusting green glop all over my copy and inserted a letter printed in Comic Sans to apologize for the destruction.
Though many of the book's original text has now found itself slightly dated of the time period in which it was written, with references to The X-Files, and Shawshank Redemption abound revealing just when the book was initially penned, the first-hand accounts as well as the research that has gone into the book is extremely valuable. The ramblings of the books authors have been well-contained and reorganized and rearranged by Shaffer to read more fluidly and comprehensively. The book acts as one part diary of the two authors and their experiences with the paranormal and another part as a field manual and guide for hunters of paranormal entities such as myself. With quick reference material, forms and paperwork for documentation (including all-important liability waivers), and first-hand guidance from the authors, the book is a must-have in the rucksack for any field agent.
Detailed and well-researched explanations of complex theories including the ectomaterialistic nature of ghosts, something that I've oft wondered about myself are presented in the book along side anthropological studies and first-hand accounts of paranormal experiences. Why do ghosts cross the threshold, yet still find themselves clothed? That's explored in the book. What protective barriers exist to keep spirits from crossing over into the physical world? That's explored complete with an easy-to-understand metaphor. Need to study the Yates-Gilbert Equation in greater detail? (Most of it) is presented here as well!
For those who have had encounters with bumps in the night, for those who are interested in exploring the study and location of paranormal and unexplained phenomenon, or for those that are perplexed with events that recently unfolded and have introduced us all to the concept of "Ghostbusters" - I highly recommend this book in its newly revised form.
And I anxiously await subsequent follow-ups, including Kevin Knows Kevin. I hope they are in greater supply and I need not wait another 30 years to read them.
Ghosts From Our Past: Both Literally & Figuratively is on shelves June 28th wherever fine books are sold, a special thank you to those at Ghostbusters, Inc. for providing a review copy.