“Doing the Squid Jump” with Matthew Gavin Frank at Southern

With a vocal cadence like a motorbike and a floral, Oaxacan vest for the ages, Matthew Gavin Frank brought humor and charm to students and faculty in his reading at the IT building this Thursday night.

Reading from his book, Preparing the Ghost: an Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer, Frank presented the audience with a phenomenal reading filled with gripping moments of history, science, and personal narrative. Whether regaling with the story of his initial fascination with his subject matter (it began with a single framed photo and three lines of text at the US Museum of Natural History) or how to do “the squid jump,” a danced conceived by his late grandfather, Papa Dave (it consists mostly of waving your arms in tentacular fashion), he bridged his readings with moments both clear and hilarious.

Frank possessed a singular ability to hold the listeners’ attention by bringing the words in his book to vivid life, reading with a conviction and personality that lent even more character to an already colorful writing style that rang of authenticity even when making stylistic conjectures about historical event.

At times bordering on Melville-esque, his work seamlessly winds together stories in an attempt to answer the question: Why do we mythologize reality? While answering it, though, he creates his own mythology–one that is sweeping and impressive, filled with monsters and the people who hunt them.

Matthew Gavin Frank was a pleasure and a privilege to have at Georgia Southern. Special thanks to the department for helping bring him to speak, and extra thanks to Professors Drevlow and Olson for hosting him

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