Another 5 Star Review for Listening to Ghosts, Second Edition

Published August 11, 2016

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Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers’ Favorite
As Listening to Ghosts by Bob Stockton quickly reminds the reader, a
good memoir is as much about the quality of voice as it is about the
story. Listening to Mr. Stockton talk about his early family years is so akin
to sitting down with some familiar and colorful uncle or grandfather that
one is tempted to begin asking questions. That is to say, his voice is so
authentic as to make you forget that you are reading rather than
listening, and that you are not a member of his family, which is
something you may be quite inclined to overlook. He also reminds us that
most, if not all, families are by nature dysfunctional, and the result is
often a rather dysfunctional child who grows up to be a rather
dysfunctional adult. But this is not to criticize the author. Quite the
contrary.
In his remarkably hypnotic book, Listening to Ghosts, Bob Stockton
describes for the often bemused reader – who feels he might be watching
a film compilation about a series of massive train wrecks – the narrative
equivalent of a mundane life becoming a fascinating study in what it
actually means to engage in one’s own existence fully and to live acutely
aware of one’s less-than-stellar qualities and skills. The lessons learned
are much the same for all, and this particular life – from a largely
misspent youth in the 1950s, to a largely misspent naval career in the
1960s and ’70s, and finally to a little discussed but successful private life
following his service – is so well told by the author that one feels inclined
to thank him for having taken on such a challenge, though with a bit of
to thank him for having taken on such a challenge, though with a bit of
relief at ‘there, but for the grace of God, go I.’ For Mr. Stockton learns his
lessons hard, insistent that the world show him repeatedly just what the
results of poor decision-making might entail, but he is a damned good
sport and honest when talking about it all.