This is a book of ghost stories, and for the most part, ghosts are jealous monsters, intent upon our destruction. They never appear overtly here, yet we gradually become aware of the spirits in haunted houses in the way they tread over creaky floors, slam doors, and issue sudden gusts of wind. These poems are Koan-like—the fewer the words, the more charged they are. The engine driving the sense of haunting and loss is money, which Davis describes as “federal bone” boiling around us. Bison in Nebraska are reduced to bones, “seven/standing men/tall” fodder for the fertilizer used by farmers in the 1800s. There is, too, an equality to the hauntings—every instance has its moment, and persists, despite being in the past, present, or future. Index of Haunted Houses is spooky and sad—a stunning debut, one that will surprise, convince, and most of all, delight.
Publishers Weekly, ”15 New and Forthcoming Indie Press Gems”
Library Journal, "Versifying / Collection Development: Poetry"
Academy of American Poets, “2020 Featured Fall Books”
"This is a collection of stark witness and testimony, with a voice that manages to sing."
—Publishers Weekly, online and print
"A debut collection of prose poetry, Davis tackles themes generally reserved for the annals of genre fiction. Everything from things that go bump in the night to disappearing and destroyed Bison, the pieces actualize how even the worst hauntings, the scariest monsters, carry their own nightmares and doubts."
—"15 New and Forthcoming Indie Press Gems” by Michael Seidlinger, Publishers Weekly
"Davis’s Index of Haunted Houses. . . is part exploration, part exhumation, part exorcism, part easement. Each poem takes on different tones and personalities, revealing new layers with each reading. The book is a ghost readers will carry with them for days, and possibly years, after their first encounter."
—“'This house will outlast.' Paranormal and Verbal Delights in Adam O. Davis’s Index of Haunted Houses," Tupelo Quarterly
"In Davis’ debut poetry collection, Index of Haunted Houses, there is a ghost in every living room and a skeleton in every closet. Ghosts of lost technologies and underwater mortgages. Skeletons of half-built subdivisions, of recliners decomposing in junkyards, of cars abandoned by drivers who can’t remember where in the world they thought they were going. Your ghosts. My skeletons. Our monsters. In Index of Haunted Houses, they are all present and eager to tell their tales of ruin and the occasional redemption, and Davis is just as ready to tell them."
—"Column: San Diego poet Adam O. Davis thinks it’s time to face our ghosts," The San Diego Union Tribune
"Davis' calculated use of language and form means that the varied scenes feel part of each other. We feel the literal word "bones" in one poem echoed by the bones in others. Desert cities, radios, coins used as metaphors, granaries and more come up not enough to be redundant, but often enough to feel like a sort of mantra. The mysteries in Davis' work are tail lights on the sides of highways in Ohio and the oilfields of Los Angeles, they're beasts in Nebraska, granaries in a small town or ghosts in unnamed cities....Like ghosts and summer-sticky road trips alike, Davis' work pairs a timeless and creepy America with hauntings, longing and curiosity."
—"Adam O. Davis’ ‘Index Of Haunted Houses’ Takes A Roadtrip Through An American Past," KPBS
“Hypervigilant, fidgety, and frightened as it should be, Index of Haunted Houses nonetheless shows us how to rake through the rubble for what we might still rebuild with, and in its consummate achievement, generates flashes of much heretofore unseen beauty, unleashing phrases that ‘arc like / swans in (the) cochlea’s / cul-de-sac.’”
“The reader finds herself in America’s afterlife, with Ma Bell’s pre-automation telephone operators. This is the elegant lyricism of ‘too late,’ calling ‘Ladies please wake up. I want to try again.’”
“Adam O. Davis has written a brilliant book about our ghosts—personal, political, mythic, lyrical, and yet very real. He documents and chronicles the musics of the unsaid, melodies unheard. There is America in these pages and there is also childhood, parenthood, a rhythm and nuance of being. I love this music.”
“From ‘the body of New Jersey’ to ‘the desert/like a house of belief,’ the poems of Index of Haunted Houses traverse the entirety of time and space that we call American. In this book, Adam O. Davis means for language as precise as ‘ledgers lavish with loss,’ to lead us to the place within us where history meets landscape. This is a brilliant debut.”
“Time and again I was pulled in, kept close to the collisions between the self and the passage of time which populate the poems. The beauty of the language engenders intimacy. The reader easily steps into the text. The wonderful imagination of this poet reminds us the mind—lyric space—is an astonishing nexus.”
—Eduardo C. Corral