Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Ghost Apple: A Novel Hardcover – March 4, 2014
See the Best Books of 2017
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Through an insanely fun mixture of pseudo-historical letters, blog posts, emails, newsletters, advertisements, and even course listings, Thier takes readers on a dark tour of life at Tripoli College in New England and its Caribbean island proxy school on the fictional St. Renard. Tripoli was founded in 1794 due to the guilty conscience of the grandson of a St. Renard sugarcane plantation owner. Now, a CFO with a gambling penchant has squandered the college’s resources, and the board decides to accept funding from Big Anna, a snack food giant with dubious business practices. The story of slave conditions in the island campus’ “field studies,” the minutes of faculty meetings held hostage by a psycho English professor, and the blog posts of a kindly 70-year-old dean of students posing as a college freshman help fill out the details of this raucous adventure. By drawing on historical documents about visitors to the West Indies and slave narratives, Thier brings authenticity to his unusual tale of a school gone off the rails. --Laurie Borman
“Loopy course descriptions, the minutiae of faculty meetings, blurbs from the school newspaper, et al., create a delicious texture and form the structure of the book . . . A droll comedy of modern manners, incisive without being angry, this satire within satire within satire will delight the right audience.” ―starred review, Publishers Weekly
“An improbable laugh riot.” ―starred review, Kirkus Reviews
“Through an insanely fun mixture of pseudo-historical letters, blog posts, emails, newsletters, advertisements, and even course listings, Thier takes readers on a dark tour of life at Tripoli College. [A] raucous adventure.” ―Booklist
“A meditation on globalization, higher education, slavery, disease, and the addictive effects of all-you-can-eat pudding, this novel is at once lyrical and satirical, formally inventive and steeped in tradition. It is the sort of book that makes you laugh only until you realize how sharp its bite is.” ―David Leavitt
“Had Donald Barthelme written Absalom, Absalom!, this is it.” ―Padgett Powell
“Antic, darkly funny, and--like all the best satire--deadly serious beneath its surface, this unusually inventive debut reads like a classic campus novel shredded, set on fire, and rebuilt by Jonathan Swift.” ―Andrea Barrett, National Book Award winner, author of ARCHANGEL
“This is a damn good novel. It's patient, weird, fun and, most of all, smart. It had me from the first line.” ―Percival Everett, author of I AM NOT SIDNEY POITIER and PERCIVAL EVERETT BY VIRGIL RUSSELL
“As deadpan as Donald Barthelme's best work and as antic as John Barth's, The Ghost Apple provides further compelling evidence, for those who still need it, of the ways in which our most cherished and trusted institutions always manage to facilitate the process of sending our world to hell in a hand basket. Aaron Thier is a smart and funny and passionate new voice.” ―Jim Shepard, National Book Award finalist, author of LIKE YOU'D UNDERSTAND, ANYWAY
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Through a varied collection of historical accounts, newspaper excerpts, blog posts, slave narratives and personal letters, the tale of Tripoli College emerges. The school has just been taken over by the corporate snack food/pharma giant, Big Anna®, with woeful consequences for idealistic students.
The 70-year-old dean, William Brees, dyes his hair and goes undercover to better understand student life. There he develops a crush on an attractive and privileged African-American student, Maggie, who already has a crush on her activist professor, John Kabaka. All the while, Big Anna® is stampeding over student rights, taking political correctness to laughable extremes, conducting field studies on unsuspecting students on St. Renard in the Caribbean, and perpetuating atrocities just about everywhere it steps.
Aaron Thier has the cadence of corporate and administrative communication down pat - using words to obfuscate true meanings. How can you not laugh out loud with this special promotional feature sponsored by the St. Renard Ministry of Tourism ("Finally, don't leave St. Renard without sampling the delicacies of our bright blue sea. Head down to the wharf in Port Kingston or visit some of the nearby alleyways, for fresh-caught seafood. Some species of fish are so endangered, you could be the last person who ever tastes them!")
Yet, as with any good satire, this one lampoons corporate excesses, political correctness and environmental policies gone awry and the overuse of registered trademarks with some serious underpinnings. Maggie, the moral center of the novel, says this: "Capital is just people and when we say it's evil, we're really just expressing our disappointment with people. In the fact that people are not better than they are. That they're just people."
The Ghost Apple is intelligent, imaginative, and ingenious. Get ready to devour it!
When I read, at the start of this mash-up, culturally hip novel, "Founded in 1794 as a free school for Native Americans, Tripoli opened its doors to tuition-paying students of all backgrounds in 1795," I knew I was in for a clever and cunning story. It begins with a letter from the founder of the school, Israel Framingham Tripoli, grandson of John Morehead Tripoli, a man who was marooned on the Caribbean island of St Renard and well taken care of by the Carawak Indians for a year, until he was (unfortunately, for him) saved. His grandson intended for this school to be a free school for the education of the Wapahanock Indians.
Now, three centuries later, the American Tripoli college, as well as its proxy on St Renard, is nothing less than an abomination of greed and mandatory slave labor, veiled by its propaganda of "field studies" for students. On St. Renard, sugar cane is harvested by the natives, who work alongside of the students (and never allowed to speak to them). Big Anna, a huge corporation of sugar-intensive foods disguised as all-natual and nutritious, sponsors it all, since Tripoli College agreed to a financial relationship with them during the economic downturn. Big Anna professes to be "green" and use sustainable practices for their manufacturing of foods. Yes, well, hmmm...
Moreover, a dietary supplement is harvested on St. Renard, and forced down the throats of unwitting subjects. Some of the more hilarious side effects of the drug are "bioluminescence, syncopated mindbeat," and "Harlequin-like ichthyosis." And, indications for taking it are, among other reasons, "Can't find the television remote, are experiencing shifting political allegiance," and "Have heard recently that pine blight is destroying the Rocky Mountain Forests."
Thier's talent in telling this story is to combine blog posts by a seventy-year-old undercover dean (posing as a freshman), pricelessly uproarious course listings, the minutiae of faculty meetings, proclamations from a former professor-cum-head of a Liberation Army stationed on St. Renard, and other documents. The glue that ties it together and gives it gravitas are the emails to her twin brother (and the undercover dean, who she had befriended) from a perceptive, wise-beyond-her-years college Junior, Maggie Bell, a black American student who elects to go to St. Renard for the field studies program. And then, later, her slave narratives, which are poised and arresting.
"Now that Big Anna was endeavoring to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, and indeed to adopt sustainable environmental practices, it had reverted to a much older method of processing the cane."
I am gobsmacked that this is Thier's debut novel. His wry, sublime humor and ability to turn a casual passage or sentence--or even a word--into an inflammatory yet risible irony is nothing short of brilliant.