Thursday, January 7, 2010

Your Neighborhood Gives Me the Creeps by Adam Selzer

First published in 2009.

Do ghosts really exist, or is "ghostly phenomena" just strange stuff that gets blamed on dead people? Giving you the real story, professional ghostbuster and skeptic Adam Selzer of Weird Chicago Tours delves into a mysterious death at a former funeral parlor, nightly ghost sightings at Hull House, and more. Proving that not all ghost hunters are kooks (some are just geeks gone wild), Selzer showcases true spooky tales worldwide, a history of hauntings, the art of ghost hunting, and cool evidence of the supernatural. These stories will make you want to investigate that cemetery down the road to see if it's haunted - or just dark and creepy. (book back blurb)

Adam Selzer is my guy. Totally. There's nothing floofy or flippy about this book. Selzer isn't some dude that smells like incense and wears MC Hammer pants as a ruse to look like a dime store Romani. He's just a guy that happened to be in the right place at the right time and found himself giving ghost tours and wandering around supposedly haunted houses. Now that's my idea of timing.

The only slightly negative thing I had to say about this book was the writing itself. Not that it was really bad, it just felt rambling in some parts, kind of redundant in others. Other than that, Selzer told a pretty compelling story about his ordinary-turned-creepy life.

What really got me hooked on this book was that Selzer is just like me. Despite all of my run-ins with ethereal beings and my psychic tendencies (including but not limited to seeing people die, one, very unfortunately, came true while the other I was capable of saving), I'm still a skeptic. Yeah, I have orb pictures, which are some of the most fallacious pieces of ghostly evidence out there. Yeah, it could be dust. But how do you have mountains of dust or water droplets on one side of a room and not the other with people walking all around? Yeah, I have a photo of a ghost standing in an abandoned building in broad daylight. Yeah, it could be something reflecting from the inside (although it was dark in there) or it could have been something on the negative (but not really) but it certainly looked like a white-formed faceless woman in a corseted bustle dress to me.

What's cool about this is the debunking and the phenomena within all of Selzer's debunking. Yes, 90% of ghostly occurrences can be explained away by something but the rest . . . it leaves people coming up short. That squeaking is a cat or the door opening on its own is hanging unevenly. Total buzz kill but it makes those few moments of unexplainable phenomena all the more fantastic.

Selzer doesn't pretend. He doesn't blow smoke, he doesn't sugar-coat anything, he just tells it like it is - for the most part, not ghostly. Rightly in history, maybe, and that could be leaving the vibe. But ghostly? Probably not.

That's why I liked this book so much. Because of the skepticism. It grounded the fantastical. It made it seem more realistic, if that makes any sense. It's like how Tim O'Brien wrote in The Things They Carried that the soldiers had to make up the more mundane stuff in order to balance out the real shit they had to go through. A book full of floofy ghostly spooky gets kind of "alright, enough" but a book full of skepticism sprinkled with stories that shake even the skeptic's resolve makes believing in the supernatural all the more real. There is something there that we can't explain. Maybe science doesn't have an explanation for it yet. Maybe it's something beyond our scope of reasoning. Whatever it is, it sure is cool!

Don't hold your breath for seeing Selzer or any of his co-workers joining the ranks of show hunters on TV. They don't do it for the spectacle or the money (since they really don't make any). They do it for the history. This is a book about some of the most grounded and realistically-based ghost hunters I've ever seen. No demons. No portals to Hell. No Warrens. No show-offisms. It just is and it's worth the read because Selzer has some good stories to tell. It'll also make you look at your own experiences in a different light and help you to explain something that might not have been explained before. The pseudo-science they dabble in is also interesting.

Really, don't miss any of it!


Monica said...

Interesting review. Thanks!

CelticLady said...

Sounds like an interesting spooky read!!!!

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