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?
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September 19, 2005
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Excerpt from Joplin's Ghost by Tananarive Due
Someone rapped on the hotel room door.
Gloria squealed, laughing. "He's still there, Phee."
"Shhhhh. It's not funny." Phoenix wasn't in the mood for fan bullshit. If this was the same boy, he'd been outside their hotel suite two solid hours, knocking softly every half hour to let them know he hadn't gone anywhere. What had been amusing at ten wasn't at midnight.
Phoenix pulled a velvet throw pillow from her cousin's bed across her eyes. Before the last knock, Gloria had been flipping through The Source, fantasizing about which men she'd like to hook up with when they had the chance to shop backstage at the Grammys or the MTV Music Awards -- It's a tough choice between Tyrese and 50 Cent, huh
Phoenix's only fantasy right then was to have the strength to walk to her master bedroom across the hall, brush her teeth and go to bed. The OutKast CD sounded tinny and awful from the cheap CD player that doubled as a clock radio, and Phoenix knew she had to be tired, if OutKast couldn't wake her up. She couldn't remember being this trashed on the road before, even when she still had a band hauling instruments and amps.
The knock on their door came again, bolder.
"What's your name " Gloria called toward her open doorway, and she might as well have been calling down the street. This was the biggest room of Phoenix's tour so far, an elegant suite with two bedrooms, a living room with a dining room table for six, phones and televisions in each bathroom, and Phoenix's master bedroom, with a canopied bed so high off the ground that it came with its own steps. Welcome to the future, Gloria had said when they arrived last night. The room was comped, or Sarge would have put them up at the Budget Inn as usual. At least at Budget Inn, she didn't have to walk so far to go to bed. Everything has a price, she thought.
"Don't encourage that boy," Phoenix said, slapping Gloria's thigh. "I'm not kidding."
"I'm Kendrick," a voice came back, full of false confidence. He sounded young, a kid.
"How'd he find my room I'm calling Sarge," Phoenix said. Sarge wasn't in for the night yet -- he was surely out at one of the clubs schmoozing the radio folks and music writers -- but Sarge's cell was always strapped to his belt, fully juiced.