Lit Amri Review
A Review of Haunts

George Jansen's Haunts takes readers back to the '70s in San Francisco. After his release from jail, 'half-breed' George Zumpo arrives in the city searching for his wife, Leela, who ran away with a guy who also took his dog and his 1965 Volkswagen Westfalia camper. Mingling with the homeless drunks, he soon finds himself involved in the lives of a couple and their two friends living in an old South of Market warehouse. It's a dark but reflective tale of humanity, where the flawed protagonists are different people but share one thing in common; being down on their luck.

Haunts is unapologetic and blunt --the tramps, drugs, and cheap booze-- but narrated with style. It's a fascinating ride back to the period of post-Vietnam War, the continuation of a social progression that started in the '60s, and when American society became more colorful in terms of different races and backgrounds. Jansen, however, zeroes in on the residents' lives in the back alleys of San Francisco, the ones with a roof over their heads and the ones on the streets. Surrounded by 'winos', Robin, Mac, Sheila, and Joey form an unconventional 'family' renting rehearsal space to music bands. The character that captivated me the most was Robin Jenks; her nonchalant out of body experience, hallucinations, seeing apparitions, and sleepwalking episodes give a subtle paranormal vibe to Haunts. Compared to the others, the way her story develops and ties up in the end surprised me. Somber, tragic, eerie but fascinating, Haunts is quite a read from George Jansen.

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