From the award-winning writer of The Good House, The Living Blood, and more, Joplin's Ghost is a chilling tale of a star-in-the-making whose life goes haywire as she is haunted by the ghost of a long-dead music legend.
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 the life young artists envy 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 music of Scott Joplin is strange enough to the ears of the hip-hop generation, but the idea that these antique sounds are being channeled by the protegee of rap superstar G-Ronn is nothing short of ludicrous.
With growing violence in G-Ronn's inner circle and a ghost bent on living forever through her, Phoenix's life suddenly hangs in the balance," writes Tananarive Due. Can the power of her own inner song and the love of a music writer who believes in her give Phoenix the strength to fight to live out her own future? Or will she be trapped forever in Scott Joplin's doomed, tragic past?
The rumor of a ghost at the Scott Joplin House in St. Louis, Mo., inspired this contemplative supernatural novel, in which a young girl becomes haunted by the specter of the famous ragtime composer. Phoenix Smalls is just 10 when a falling piano nearly kills her; some weeks later, she sleepwalks to its bench and plays Joplin's "Weeping Willow," a song well beyond her abilities. With crisp, evocative prose, Due (The Living Blood) juxtaposes Joplin's unhappy life and musical fame in the late 19th century against the struggles of Phoenix, the biracial child of activist, creative parents, in the present day, as, at 24, she tries to make it as an R&B singer. Considering that Joplin's musical career was thwarted by racism, personal loss and illness (he suffered an agonizing death from syphilis), Due has rich material to stir up readers' empathy for the relationship between the ghost and his chosen channel. But the story is also a vehicle for Due's admirable illustration of the musician's dilemma: how to be true to a gift in the face of pressure to create what will sell. Authors face such dilemmas as well; fortunately, Due shows herself true to her own powerful gift.