cover image Ghost


Alan Lightman, . . Pantheon, $23 (243pp) ISBN 978-0-375-42169-3

In this smartly paced novel from the author of Einstein’s Dreams , a divorced, former banker witnesses a supernatural event, inspiring him to continue the “search for something” that has hovered in the back of his mind throughout his life. A promising, handsome student in his younger years, middle-aged David struggles to restore order to his life and relationships after being sacked from his middling bank job. The search leads him to the local funeral home, where he takes a job as an apprentice among a cast less hip than the Six Feet Under crew, but compelling in a quieter way—the director, Martin, is a fatherly figure whose allegiance to his inherited profession rules an existence otherwise restricted by severe agoraphobia. After David has a vision he “can’t describe in words” in the home’s “slumber room,” he gets agitated to the point where he is compelled to confess to a loose-lipped friend. Soon, David’s vision becomes a local media event, with unwanted consequences. Familiar questions about the existence of God, life after death and the fluidity of time arise, and the cast doesn’t get the detail it deserves. But the momentum that builds alongside David’s ensuing psychological turmoil is enough to carry the story. (Oct.)