Selzer, Adam. Your Neighborhood Gives Me the Creeps: True Tales of an Accidental . Ghost Hunter. Llewellyn, 2009. ISBN 978-0738715575 288 pp. $
So, I was reading this in a hotel room and JUMPED when the person bringing me dinner knocked on the door–and I KNEW someone would be coming.
I found a lot of things to enjoy about Your Neighborhood Gives Me the Creeps. Selzer is absolutely an engaging writer and a good storyteller, and he’s funny. A skeptic, he advocates for communication, rather than polarization, between skeptics and believers, and while he won’t say ghosts don’t exist, he makes some really good points, like, you’d think by now, after hundreds of years of ghost stories, we’d have found a way to prove it.
The book focuses on Selzer’s moonlighting as a paranormal investigator, and hosting Weird Chicago tours that feature stops at “haunted locations.” In the course of the work, he discusses EVP work, describes the history of spiritualism and mediums in America, debunks scam ghost hunter operations, offers possible explanations for ghosts, introduces the reader to his psychic friend, and shares a goosebump-evoking ghost story of his own.
This is a well researched book, and Seltzer is adamant about the research piece of ghost hunting. Occasionally, Selzer slams celebrity ghost hunters, though never by name, and the narrative gets a little bogged down with details of a falling out with co-workers that lead to a split in the company Selzer was originally working for.
The story of Odin Tatu, a haunted tattoo parlor in a former funeral home, is beautifully woven throughout the book. There are footnotes, but they are explanatory, not cited sources, which is a bit disappointing, given how much Selzer advocates research. The book’s major flaw is poor editing. Selzer repeats his axiom twice (“any remotely spooky place that people sneak into to get wasted will eventually turn up on a tv show, website or book about ghosts.”), and is frequently redundant about people, locations, and his beliefs. Better trimming and more stories would have made this 4 star book a 5 for me.
The huge success of TAPS on the SyFy channel indicates this is a trendy topic–I’ve been fascinated with ghosts since I was 10, and it’s an interest that hasn’t faded for me. I also really liked how Selzer presents the angle of finding a career that suits you, doing what you love, and doing it with passion.
You can bet, the next time I go to Chicago, I’m taking a ghost tour!