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Man Confronts Childhood Obsession With Ghosts In New Memoir

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Eric Nuzum's new memoir is called "Giving Up the Ghost."
Mulwane S. Winfield
Eric Nuzum's new memoir is called "Giving Up the Ghost."

Growing up in Canton, Ohio in the early 1980s, Eric Nuzum became convinced he was haunted by a little girl in a blue dress. His anxiety over this "haunting" ended with Nuzum in a psychiatric ward. Decades later, Nuzum has told the tale in a new book, "Giving Up The Ghost." He recently talked with Metro Connection's Kavitha Cardoza about how he confronted his fear of ghosts. Following are highlight of their conversation.

On seeming so happy, despite a difficult childhood: "I think that a version of me definitely died in the course of the story. And the second thing I would say is: I'm a happy person because I keep my life very much in context. If you look around this room, in a couple places you'll see little skulls. Like there's one over the stand, there's one over the shelf. I keep motif around me a lot, because I want to be reminded of where I've been. A skull is a reminder of death to me, and it keeps me focused on living. I was in a race to finish it [my book] before my son was born, so that I could be a better father. One of the main reasons I wrote this book, was to let go of it. This has been something I had been keeping inside of myself, and festering this whole story for 27 years."

On whether Nuzum believes in ghosts now: "I believe, if you think that there's a building that contains some floaty thing inside of it that comes out when people are in there at night, that doesn't exist. I think people are haunted. I think people are haunted by their pasts, their regrets, things that have happened, and sometimes they'll go sit in a dark space in a place that feels creepy or unfamiliar and you're sitting there alone with your thoughts and things come out in you, not the place. And I think that's real."

On making peace with his past: "My current tactic is to talk about it very publicly, which is both completely crazy and uncomfortable. My family has a lot of trouble with this — they think it's going to damage my reputation, or people's impressions of me. My feeling has been that by telling the story, I get to stop trying to suppress it in my own life. When I tell it, I'm really being honest about me, even though it's a crazy story and there are crazy elements to it, it's the only story I have."

Eric Nuzum is vice president of programming at NPR. His new memoir is called "Giving Up the Ghost."

[Music: "Music For Airports" by Brian Eno from Ambient 1: Music For Airports]

Extended Interview with Eric Nuzum


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