cover of book

Grave Goods
by John P O'Grady
University of Utah Press, 2014
Paper: 978-1-60781-432-0 | Cloth: 978-0-87480-681-6
Library of Congress Classification AC8.O38 2001
Dewey Decimal Classification 081


"Overheard in a coffee shop the other day, one young woman severely admonishing another about the dangers of amateur séances: 'Just one wrong move, and Poof! Suddenly every dead rock star and TV evangelist is knocking at your door and forcing you to bake ten thousand apple pies. You can’t trust these ghosts. They have a mind of their own.'"
—from the book

Just because this is a collection of essays about psychics, murderers, strange disappearances, and occult phenomena doesn’t mean it isn’t funny. With wit, wry curiosity, and redemptive irony John P. O’Grady peels back the surface of the seemingly normal to reveal the dubious, the inexplicable, the outlandish.

Consider Leo LaHappe, a.k.a. "The Bugman." During a 1970s-era dormitory bull session Leo reveals a strange obsession with Virginia Dare, the first child born of English parents in the New World. His obsession becomes the catalyst for a campus-wide witch hunt at the University of Maine.

Or, what about the beekeeper who knocks on O’Grady’s door. Dressed in his professional gear—boots, coveralls, and dark veil—the man seeks permission to search the author’s woods for his hive. Turns out he hadn’t told the bees about his mother’s death and, sensitive creatures that they are, the bees had run away. "I have to tell them I’m sorry," the beekeeper explains. "I just hope they forgive me and come home."

Grave Goods includes ghost stories, macabre modern legends, and metaphysical investigations, all informed by the natural sciences, history, philosophy, literature, and mythology. From laugh-out-loud funny to eerily thoughtful, these essays reveal the natural world as a place of unnatural surprises and strange beauty. A place where Rip Van Winkle, O’Grady’s college buddies, and ragtag psychics rub shoulders with Buddha, Socrates, and Stephen King—and it all makes perfect sense.

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