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When Phoenix Smalls was ten she nearly died at her parents' jazz club when she was crushed by a turn of the century piano Now twenty four Phoenix is launching a career as an R B singer She's living out her dreams and seems destined for fame and fortune But a chance visit to a historical site in St Louis ignites a series of bizarre erotic encounters with a spirit who may be the King of Ragtime Scott Joplin The sound of Scott Joplin is strange enough to the ears of the hip hop generation But the idea that these antiue sounds are being channeled through Phoenix? Her life is suddenly hanging in the balance How will she find her true voice and calling? Can the power of her own inner song give Phoenix the strength to fight to live out her own future? Or will she be forever trapped in Scott Joplin's doomed tragic past? Stunningly original Joplin's Ghost is a novel filled with art and intrigue and is sure to bring music to readers' ears


10 thoughts on “Joplin's Ghost

  1. says:

    I picked this up at a wonderful used bookstore The Book Bank in Alexandria VA Seriously how someone could let this book go I don't knowSo awhile back I read a Due short story on my kindle I enjoyed it and she got added to my list the ever growing one of authors to try in novel form When I saw this book I figured why not Who doesn't love Scott Joplin?Yeah okay you're the one person And I don't like you so we're good Seriously go listen to Ragtime or Maple Leaf Rag You are most likely one those people who thinks Shakespeare writes in Old EnglishIn part the book deals with the uestion of sex and consent in particular in terms of gender and age There is much about music and the definition of music as well as being true to one's art There are true friendships between women In particular I love Gloria and Phoenix's relationship with her in particular in regards to what happens early in the book I love that Gloria stood her ground and Phee realized something Additional shout out to the lovely woman perhaps the owner at the counter She loved this book and we had a nice talk


  2. says:

    Joplin’s Ghost is an eclectic mixture of historical fiction and borderline urban prose For the historical lesson on Scott Joplin I give the book 5 stars; and for the lean to urban I give 4 my final rating falls somewhere in between Do I dare mention again how I love me some writing by Tananarive Due? Well if you don’t know by now she is one of my all time favorite authors but I promise this review is unbiasedWhat I enjoyed most about Joplin’s Ghost is that it took Ms Due a little out of her usual style of writing and I respect her even for challenging herself to show that she is a versatile writer willing to take a chance on drawing in a new group of readers Where she may have disappointed some of her long time faithful followers I believe she may have picked up some new younger ones along the way who are huge fans of the urban genre but ready to grow in their literary journey Joplin’s Ghost is a love story of sorts involving famed Ragtime composer Scott Joplin who departed from this life like many gifted artist way before their time It is evident in the writing that the author spent a considerable amount of time researching Joplin’s life as well as music in general to create this work of fiction I will admit that I am still a little unsure if the ghost was Joplin himself his piano or Joplin’s second wife Freddie whose spirit may have been trapped in the piano when Joplin attempted to make his transition into the afterlife But not knowing for sure doesn’t take away from the storyThe story moves back and forth between Joplin’s era early 1900’s and modern day as we discover new singer Phoenix who is a trained classical musician trying to make it in today’s music scene ala Alicia Key’s The two stories meld as Joplin dies and Phoenix is injured by a mysterious piano when she is 10 Fast forward 14 years Phoenix is now signed with a popular Hip Hop label and journeys to Joplin’s hometown There her fathermanager encourages her to visit the Scott Joplin Museum where she has her first well second encounter with the ghostWe get to know Joplin the man and composer as Due’s story follows a fictitious account of his life beginning in 1900 Through her storytelling we meet his second wife Freddie who is his soul mate even into death Back in current time we have Phoenix who accepts that his ghost is very real and very present in her life At times it seems that Joplin is using her as an instrument to share with the world music he composed for two Opera’s that he never received proper recognition for—eventually destroying the sheet music before his death Then at other times it felt as if his goal was to free Freddie’s spirit from the hounted piano so he could finally crossover into the afterlife and she could make her return there she died before him but came back as a ghost when he claimed the mysterious piano that had been abandoned in an allyyes the same one that injured Phoenix at age 10Remember Joplin’s Ghost really is a love story It’s being told from several angles which makes it that much fascinating If you have read Tina McElroy Ansa’s The Hand I Fan With you can get a better picture as to how someone can fall in love with a ghost As Phoenix becomes absorbed in Joplin’s ghost her world begins to unravel and she faces losing not only her career but the support of family and friends Just when she didn’t think her life could get any crazier tragedy strikesWhere I think Due loses some of her die hard fans is in the urban aspects of the book which at times only a few seemed forced and out of place in the full scheme of the story Some of the scenes simply did not flow as fluently as when she was telling Joplin’s story The only part of the book I simply could not enjoy was the knowledge that Joplin died from the sexually transmitted disease Syphilis yet there was a love scene between Phoenix and Joplin’s ghost under the guise that physically she was making love to her boyfriend but subconsciously it was the ghost That just wasn’t sexy and was a bit much to digest even though we had learned earlier in the book that the disease is no longer contagious after a certain period of time as long as there is no re infectionIf you are a follower of Due’s “Living Blood” series I recommend you give Joplin’s Ghost a try As I anxiously await the next installment due out this fall I have been catching up on some of her other books and so far I have not been disappointedMuch LoveTracyTracy L Darity is the author of He Loves Me He Loves Me Not and LoveLike Snow In Florida on a Hot Summer Day For information visit wwwTracyLDaritycom


  3. says:

    I'm jealous of Tananarive Due We both worked at the Miami Herald before she left to become a really good writer of speculative fiction there's always fantasy elements to her work but they're also very much tied to the real world So she shows us ghosts and spirits but in a world where people who see ghosts and spirits are considered crazy I also appreciate that race and ethnicity play a role in her works too often fantasy and science fiction authors just erase these differences like a world free of cultural difference is something we should be striving for Sorry but I think those issues are part of what makes us humanThis book weaves the story of a young up and coming singer who seems modeled after Alicia Keys or Lauryn Hill or Esperanza Spalding whose fate is tied to the restless spirit of Scott Joplin a black ragtime composer who had an operatically tragic life before dying of syphilis in 1917 It took a while for the book to find full momentum and I wasn't as interested in some of the many many side characters despite the fact that they were well drawn But the last 100 150 pages or so were compelling


  4. says:

    I don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading this book I was probably pouting about having to wait for another one of the Blood Brothers series and nearly missed a national treasureI loved this book The Ghost thing may have kept me away for a while And maybe it did take me a few dozen pages to stop checking under the bed for the ghostI love the way Ms Due intertwines the historical life of Scott Joplin with the fictional life of an up and coming RB singer who finds herself possessed by Joplin's Ghost She easily makes the transition back and forth between the life of a black musician 100 years ago and the RBpophip hop scene of today with the dangers of syphilis years ago and gang violence todayBy the time I finished the book I felt like I knew the real Scott Joplin and I wondered if it isn't also Ms Due who is possessed by his ghost Joplin lives on through this bookThis is a must read I give it five stars


  5. says:

    I loved this ghost story Gothic haunting part ghost story historal fiction and love storyWell done


  6. says:

    there are brilliant writers who for some reason don't uite get all the readership that seems appropriate for their brilliance tananarive due is only one of them meaning i can think of others but HOLY SMOKES does it sadden me that this book is not read and assigned in classes all over the great US of A where the narratives of african american life that are typically favored are those of slavery and brutality this is not an unbrutal book because part of it the scott joplin part is set during a time in which african americans suffered endless discrimination and humiliation and worse of course the book doesn't dwell on the material segregation much there is a bit about a painful train ride but not much but rather on the fact that joplin's music was roundly rejected because Black musicians were confined to really narrow genres his rags were fine everything else not so much joplin a massively talented composer with a sweeping vision spent his life being thwarted at every step of the wayso this is partly about racism and partly about the creative personal damage of being unable to be heard because you don’t fit pre existing narratives about what your art should be like another book that is painfully about this is Siri Hustvedt's The Blazing World though one must say that the real life suppression of a genius of the uality of scott joplin because of worldwide racism kinda hurts in a singular way in this here miserable 2020 year of the lord joplin’s work is presented in this novel as a visionary precursor to jazz and later forms of african american music since i didn’t know anything about joplin i appreciated being introduced to him by tananarive due an author whose dedication to historical accuracy with obvious exceptions cuz after all this is a ghost story i trust on the other side of the temporal continuum is phoenix a young musician who is also being pushed by various well meaning in her case forces into tried and true modes of Black music due does storytelling magic with the story of how these two people mesh into each other’s lives it’s really amazing every time i thought i had it down there was a new twist and a new deepening and complexity and richness and i was like damnghosts are a bit of a recurring presence in the african american literature i have read i don’t dare say african american literature in general cuz i am not an expert i am thinking now of the incredible use of ghosts Jesmyn Ward does in Sing Unburied Sing ghosts show up to tell of their pain and pass the baton of history ghosts tell those who live in the present not to forget ghosts comfort and encourage ghosts are history and also history’s urgent push into the present in the afternote to the book due says that she painstakingly researched ghosts by talking to serious psychics who work with them regularly i am sure there is some storytelling license here but the delicacy of dealing with the souls of people who have died the expertise reuired to do it right and to honor our ancestors kept me rather enthralled here’s a spoiler ghosts don’t hurt us due is a heck of a storyteller her novels are blessedly long and when you finish them you wish there were there is a ton of depth here but it’s hidden in a enthralling package and i don’t know how she does it here are some of the themes what do people owe their past when that past clamors to be honored; what do they owe themselves; how can they honor their history while also not being dragged down by it; how can groups that have been historically brutalized do right by their ancestors and how can they continue their struggle for liberation and voice there is a ton here about music if you love music you will love this lastly the audio version is performed by lizan mitchell and she is great


  7. says:

    I had a wildly uneven experience with this book It has some of the same problems that I have with most novels that try to tell two interconnected stories one historical one contemporary The historical story was easy to fall into but I kept losing interest during the contemporary timeline That might be all me rather than the book as I have very little interest in 1990's pop music or the lives of fictional 90's pop stars I was also a little uncomfortable with the mercifully few explicit sex scenes and some dubious consent issues The payoff toward the end was worth persevering for though and the prose lifted the story a little I think it was the audio performance by Lizan Mitchell that really made this book for me her pace her voices her emotion even the way she changed the whole persona of the narrator based on who's POV is being revealed were all outstanding


  8. says:

    This book tore me up That is not only hard to do it’s a wonderful thing Ms Due has written two stories with great pathos and then she interweaved them in a way that was dramatic exceptional and spellbinding The first is a story about Scott Joplin the famous and tragic ragtime composer and musician from the early 1900’s The second is the story of Phoenix Smalls the fictionalized young contemporary singer and composer on the brink of becoming an established global success as a musician The way these two characters meet come together and relate to each other is uniue This is a ghost story and a love story but most of all I think this is also a story about music I have always believe that music is the great leveler among people and this book appealed to me because many of the characters reveled in the same eclectic yet classical tastes I have This book covers a lot of ground musically from whom it talks about and reflects on even briefly to how it rationalizes andor educates us about the political cultural and societal ramifications of what we hear when we listen to music and what we don’t know about the people who make the music The protagonists of this book were stunning but all the secondary characters really blew me away too particularly Marcus Smalls aka Sarge If you’re familiar with the term book boyfriend I’d like to coin one about Sarge and say he’s an awesome book Dad Smart fierce and loving as a character Sarge is a force of nature Great story great book


  9. says:

    I enjoyed Ms Due's writing style I always enjoy third person writing Personally it seems that I get a lot details when it's written in this style MsDue had tons of historical information written in an entertaining way There must have been tons of research that went into this bookThe story was a pretty even mix of historical fiction and a urban ghost story all rolled up into one I'd almost say this could even be considered speculative fiction The story splits it time in the early 1900's and the present The story was both detailed and entertaining This book is a little longer than what I'm used to It's been a long while since I've read a book over 450 pages and it was worth every page I picked up this book on a close out sale 4 Score It's been sitting on my shelf for the last 3 4 years I'm not sure why it took me so long to finally read it but I'm glad that I finally did I ended up suggesting it for one of the book clubs that I'm in and go figure they wanted to read it There was a lot going on in this book so I won't be able to address everything I'll try to keep it short and sweet Basically be warned if you have any aversion to ghost stories or ghost in general this book may creep you out just a bit This book also had psychics paranormal activity and other odd things going on I hadn't heard of Scott Joplin before but maybe that's because I'm not really into music When I mentioned this book to my sister whose in music education she knew immediatly who he was Joplin was very talented and was a famous in rag time composer He died a horrible slow death thanks to syphilis in 1917 I learned alot about him and his two wives and one common law wife I thought it was interesting that I look up his most popular piece Maple Leaf Ragon YouTube In case you're curious too I've posted one of the videos below of a a musician playing the song Joplin was clearly a talented composer Phoenix young smart talented musician and totally held hostage by Scott Joplins ghost It's like Scott terrorized this poor girl almost to death Along with the history on Joplin it was interesting to get a peak into the music industry of the past and present There were tons of secondary characters and they all for the most part they all had their purpose I liked reading about Phoenix and her family and how they all had gotten to where they were It was a little strange that several of her family members and her boyfriend Carlos all had past interactions with ghosts There were some interesting subplots going on as well Between Phoenix's fathermanager Sarge hating her boyfriend and her ex boyfriend Ronn's hip hop label that has uestionable and dangerous interactions with another hip hop artist she had tons to deal with on top of the ghost There was even reference of Biggie and Tupac and the east coastwest coast friction that was going on back in the day relieving itself with her new labelWhen all was said and done and Phoenix made it to the other side of this haunting and suffered great tragedy getting there I didn't really care for how the story ended with Phoenix explaining to Carlos that she believed that she was Freddie and he was Scott reincarnated I was just hoping that she would take that experience as it was and move on I didn't expect her to suggest that it was reincarnation that led Joplin to haunt herthat was odd While I did uestion the shift at the very end I did like that there was resolution If you're up for something a little out of the box check this one out for sure


  10. says:

    In “Joplin’s Ghost” Phoenix Smalls is hilarious at the age of 10; she calls her father Sarge because “he turns practicing the piano into a military exercise with a timer” Sarge convinces his daughter to go into singing; she’s already a prodigy at the piano She feels cursed having been born into a family of musicians but takes her father’s advice At 10 Phee as she’s sometimes called as well as Peanut by her father has her first encounter with a ghost piano that falls on her sending her into a comaAt age 24 her career as an RB singer is in full motion But an unexpected meeting with the ghost of Scott Joplin changes her direction against her will Scott channels his Ragtime music through Phoenix and she must fight to live out her true life Here the story takes many bizarre turns with the past and present playing out side by side Ms Due is a talented writer I already knew that but I wasn’t aware of her musical talents “Joplin’s Ghost” kept me fascinated and the closer I got to the end the harder it was to put the book down I give this book 5 starsMinnie Estelle Miller