Catalogue


Hungry ghost : a novel /
Keith Kachtick.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, c2003.
description
322 p.
ISBN
0060523905 (acid-free paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, c2003.
isbn
0060523905 (acid-free paper)
catalogue key
4992907
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
First Chapter
Hungry Ghost

Chapter One

Greta is naked again. A blue-eyed, thirty-one-year-old sous chef from Berlin, goat-beard wisps of blond hair beneath her arms, she drops her black bikini top and diaphanous, wine-colored sarong onto her towel, strides across the damp sand, and dives into the breakers. Sitting up straight, you gape at the slope of Greta's breasts and run the back of your wrist across your mouth. Until she disrobed, you'd been lying flat against a dry dune near the Sendero cabañas, a short Frisbee toss from Greta's towel, presumably undetected in the shadows of the deserted cove, hands clasped behind your head, your attention directed chiefly towards the cloudless blue sky and a lone schooner bobbing in the calm, gold-flecked Pacific waters a few hundred yards offshore.

Over the last three days you've come to think of this long-legged German woman in specific physical terms, individual pieces of an exotic, big-boned puzzle. Greta is taller than average, heavier than average, ample but in an understated, competitive-sculler sort of way. A pre-Raphaelite mop of sandy blond hair. Broad shoulders. Muscular calves. Collarbones you could rope a horse to. A drowsy, full-souled smile. (Last night, drinking cuba libres and playing chess by the driftwood campfire, as Greta forked your queen with that deliciously slow grin of hers, you thought how perfect is the Spanish word for smile: Sonrisa. Sunrise.) You can't get enough of her smoky German accent. At times she works so hard at finding the correct word in English, her wide, Old World face scrunched from the effort, that you want to take her hand. But you haven't -- not once. And thus far you've managed to stay out of her cabaña, too.

Today is the final day of your three-day shoot. All of your photo gear has been repacked in the brushed-silver Anvils in preparation for tomorrow morning's departure. Less fruitful than it might have been (you exposed only nineteen rolls of film out of the fifty you brought), this unexpected "adventure travel" assignment in southern Mexico will nonetheless pay much of the balance due on your new $2,900 Minolta laser printer and last month's $1,800 rent on your East Village apartment. Despite the half-hearted professional effort, you're in no hurry to leave -- the warm winter weather has proven intoxicating. For three days you've remained barefoot, worn the same pair of oversized Abercrombie & Fitch canvas cargo shorts, stayed either high or within arm's reach of a frosty Negra Modelo, and been surrounded by comely beachcombers wearing little more than coconut oil and toe-rings. Your arrival here back on Tuesday now seems like someone else's dream: New York to Mexico City to Oaxaca on increasingly smaller planes, five hours by rickety bus along the winding mountain roads of the Sierra Madres to the fishing village of Puerto Escondido, hitchhiking to San Augustinillo and then crossing by foot the beachfront dunes that lead, ultimately, to this hedonistic Pacific-coast sanctuary.

Zipolite is located on the tip of the country's southernmost peninsula, about as far from the United States as one can get and still be in Mexico. "A hidden, bohemian paradise with unpaved roads and dreadlocked shopkeepers, shaded by palm trees and palapas and thatched-roof bungalows, Zipolite is an international rainbow of Lonely Planet travelers, Amsterdam meets the Garden of Eden, a tropically exotic and decidedly Dionysian love song." This is the first line of the 2,700-word article penned by a Details writer named Sandy Tesoros (who you correctly assume is a woman), which you were hired and sent to Mexico to illustrate with your photographs. The sentence, you feel, is an apt description for how you've come to regard this place -- and for the quality you attempted to capture with your cameras. There are no ringing phones or buzzing alarm clocks in Zipolite, no sunburned tourists camcording the pelicans. Here there are tattooed chests and pierced belly buttons, long moonstruck nights of reggae and mescal on the beach. Here all of life seems tribal.

For three days you munched watermelon and papaya and mango for breakfast, and at night, by votive candle under the thirty-foot-high thatched roof of La Chosa -- the open-air restaurant so close to the ocean you could feel its salty spray on your cheeks -- savored seared red snapper topped with prawns the size of lobsters. You meditated each morning, hidden behind dunes taller than your outstretched arms. You spotted a stray dog with his ears dyed purple (trying to get him to sit still for a shot, you pined for Marley, your camera-friendly Rasta-mutt extraordinaire, who at this very moment is gnawing on Mrs. Pierno's winter galoshes back in Manhattan). You exposed an entire roll of film on a young Mexican girl selling fillets of iguana from a bucket balanced atop her head. You slept dreamlessly in your own palm tree–shrouded Sendero cabaña, 100 pesos a night (roughly $12), monastic and seductive with its whitewashed walls, slow-turning ceiling fan, gauzy mosquito net, and pine-planked porch from which you flung sand dollars into the ocean. You built a bonfire with a South African motorcyclist awaiting, without complaint, the arrival of a brake-pad for his Ducati for six months now. You discovered the sound a palm tree makes before dropping a coconut.

For three days you wandered from one end of Zipolite's half-mile beach to the other, blissfully stoned, photographing with either your new Mamiya M645 or your rugged little Canon Elan, discreetly and usually with permission, the occasional semi-naked woman lying on the dunes. You discovered that among the semi-naked women you photographed were a Honduran dive-master, a Franco-Czech painter with a name you couldn't pronounce, a journalist from Wales covering the Zapatista rebels in the neighboring state of Chiapas, and Greta, a dripping-wet sous chef from Berlin ...

Hungry Ghost. Copyright © by Keith Kachtick. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Hungry Ghost by Keith Kachtick
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2003-05-01:
Freelance photographer Carter Cox, 39, is searching for his path to enlightenment while shaving his eyebrows, wearing designer huaraches, and seducing every female he meets on his transcontinental photo shoots. He's the lost soul of the title, yearning for more but unable to stop downloading porn, stuffing himself with Choco-Cherry ice cream, and ditching his mutt, Marley, whom he leaves with his beleaguered neighbor. Carter is Nick Hornby's Will Lightman (from About a Boy) with a real job, just as self-absorbed yet endearing. When he meets a 26-year-old Catholic virgin named Mia at a Buddhist retreat, he vows to change. They head to Morocco for an action-packed adventure with a Tom Robbins-like bizarre plot turn (is it a nightmare? a hallucination?) laced with lengthy theological musings. Told entirely from an off-putting second-person perspective, this first novel may not appeal to a wide audience. Buy where budding Buddhists will appreciate the in-jokes. For larger fiction collections.-Christine Perkins, Bellingham, WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2003-04-28:
A jaded magazine photographer seeks spiritual enlightenment and true love while wallowing in brand-name accoutrements in this contrived but engagingly confessional debut, narrated in the second person. Unashamedly narcissistic and materialistic, 39-year-old Carter Cox has recently turned to Buddhism in an attempt to wean himself away from flings with Banana Republic models and hot German backpackers. Trying to infuse more meaning into both his art and his life, Carter retreats to a serene, mountaintop Buddhist temple in upstate New York, where he hopes to find inner peace. Instead, he finds 26-year-old Mia Malone, a beautiful Catholic virgin searching for transcendence. Unsure whether his love for Malone is genuine, Carter invites her along to a photo shoot in Morocco, where the two are confronted with both spiritual and physical perils. Mia's first impression of Carter ("you smell too good and are too tan to be trustworthy") is fairly accurate, but there is something refreshing about a straight male protagonist who gives a running chronicle of his daily outfits ("Guessing, correctly, that Mia prefers conservative attire, you've worn brown corduroys and a beige Kenneth Cole sweater"). Mia, a Southerner with odd British inflections ("my daft effort at being arch"), is too good to be true, but Kachtick manages to make her almost believable as an earnest Bible-reading and fashion-ignorant counterpoint to Carter. The novel takes a downward turn at the end when Kachtick plays with alternate endings to his story, but this is otherwise an engaging chronicle of Calvin Klein-clad soul-searching. Agent, William Clark. (May) Forecast: Readers who shell out for expensive yoga pants are the likely potential audience for Kachtick's debut. 5-city author tour. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Kachtick proves himself an inventive storyteller . . . fresh and interesting."
"Kachtick writes with assurance and verve."
"Keith Kachtick writes in clear, often clever prose."
The pages of HUNGRY GHOST seem to turn themselves, it's that good.
"Beach reading--for Ph.D.s."
"[Hungry Ghost] is an excellent, excellent novel.
"[An] enviable talent."
A unique and fearless novel, dancing along the razor's edge between flesh and spirit, cynicism and belief.
"An engaging chronicle of Calvin Klein-clad soul-searching."
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Booklist, April 2003
Publishers Weekly, April 2003
Library Journal, May 2003
New York Times Book Review, July 2003
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Unpaid Annotation
Carter Cox is thirty-eight, a talented but dissipated freelance photographer living in New York's East Village with his sad dog and his bad habits. Though he travels to exotic places taking pictures of models and celebrities, he yearns to do more meaningful artistic work and to mend his womanizing, substance-abusing ways. He also tries to practice what he learns from his Buddhist betters but continues to carry with him his "seduction kit" -- a chessboard, cigarettes, a deck of cards, and a Cormac McCarthy novel -- along with a plentiful supply of rationalizations for his caddish behavior.At a Buddhist retreat in upstate New York, Carter meets Mia Malone, twenty-six, beautiful, smart, and serious -- a devout Catholic interested in other religions and determined to remain a virgin until she is married. Carter falls hard, and Mia -- attracted by Carter's struggle with Buddhism, his passion for photography, and his knowledge of the world -- nervously agrees to join him on a five-night, beachfront photo shoot in Morocco. With both of their souls hanging in the balance, they quickly go from the ocean to hot water. During their romantic standoff, Carter and Mia crash their rental car, get arrested, run afoul of a sadistic gendarme, and try to flee the country -- an adventure that leads to the discovery that karma and the human heart work in very mysterious ways. With its sure pace and narrative surprises, "Hungry Ghost is a serious, sexy novel about chastity and s
Main Description
Carter Cox is thirty-eight, a talented but dissipated freelance photographer living in New York's East Village with his sad dog and his bad habits. Though he travels to exotic places taking pictures of models and celebrities, he yearns to do more meaningful artistic work and to mend his womanizing, substance-abusing ways. He also tries to practice what he learns from his Buddhist betters but continues to carry with him his "seduction kit" -- a chessboard, cigarettes, a deck of cards, and a Cormac McCarthy novel -- along with a plentiful supply of rationalizations for his caddish behavior. At a Buddhist retreat in upstate New York, Carter meets Mia Malone, twenty-six, beautiful, smart, and serious -- a devout Catholic interested in other religions and determined to remain a virgin until she is married. Carter falls hard, and Mia -- attracted by Carter's struggle with Buddhism, his passion for photography, and his knowledge of the world -- nervously agrees to join him on a five-night, beachfront photo shoot in Morocco. With both of their souls hanging in the balance, they quickly go from the ocean to hot water. During their romantic standoff, Carter and Mia crash their rental car, get arrested, run afoul of a sadistic gendarme, and try to flee the country -- an adventure that leads to the discovery that karma and the human heart work in very mysterious ways. With its sure pace and narrative surprises, Hungry Ghost is a serious, sexy novel about chastity and salvation, and will satisfy any reader's appetite for entertainment and literary excellence.
Main Description
Carter Cox is thirty-eight, a talented but dissipated freelance photographer living in New Yorks East Village with his sad dog and his bad habits. Though he travels to exotic places taking pictures of models and celebrities, he yearns to do more meaningful artistic work and to mend his womanizing, substance-abusing ways. He also tries to practice what he learns from his Buddhist betters but continues to carry with him his "seduction kit" -- a chessboard, cigarettes, a deck of cards, and a Cormac McCarthy novel -- along with a plentiful supply of rationalizations for his caddish behavior.At a Buddhist retreat in upstate New York, Carter meets Mia Malone, twenty-six, beautiful, smart, and serious -- a devout Catholic interested in other religions and determined to remain a virgin until she is married. Carter falls hard, and Mia -- attracted by Carters struggle with Buddhism, his passion for photography, and his knowledge of the world -- nervously agrees to join him on a five-night, beachfront photo shoot in Morocco. With both of their souls hanging in the balance, they quickly go from the ocean to hot water. During their romantic standoff, Carter and Mia crash their rental car, get arrested, run afoul of a sadistic gendarme, and try to flee the country -- an adventure that leads to the discovery that karma and the human heart work in very mysterious ways. With its sure pace and narrative surprises, Hungry Ghost is a serious, sexy novel about chastity and salvation, and will satisfy any readers appetite for entertainment and literary excellence.

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