cover image Ghosts of America: A Great American Novel

Ghosts of America: A Great American Novel

Caroline Hagood. Hanging Loose, $18 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-934909-71-3

Hagood debuts with an explosive if uneven riff on Dickens’s A Christmas Carol (after the critical memoir Ways of Looking at a Woman), in which the ghosts of Jackie Kennedy and Valerie Solanas haunt a sexist novelist. Herzog, the author, spies on a female neighbor from his Brooklyn brownstone, consults fortune tellers, and laments the Trump administration, until the specter of Jackie Kennedy shows up while he’s watching documentary footage of JFK, whom he’s been struggling to write a novel about. After Jackie scolds him for his inaccuracies, she vanishes and is replaced with the ghost of Solanas, who dogs the author for his treatment of her in Shooting Andy, a novel inspired by the time she critically wounded Andy Warhol in 1968. Hagood aims for Herzog to realize his chauvinistic ways, and while the author clearly has fun with her characters, it’s difficult to believe Herzog’s eventual conversion, because while Valerie’s voice is sharply unique, Jackie sounds too similar to Herzog himself, which undermines the fantastical conceit. This fast and funny revisionist satire might lack a convincing payoff, but it throws off plenty of nitro along the way. Agent: Al Zuckerman, Writers House. (Nov.)