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April 18, 2014
  • "Tales of My Large, Loud, Spritual Family" by Katherine Agranovich
"Tales of My Large, Loud, Spritual Family"… (Daily Pilot )

Tales of My Large, Loud, Spiritual Family

Katherine Agranovich

KAA Publishing; 176 pages

Every so often I encounter people who claim to have mystical perceptions — a classmate who insisted that he once lived in a haunted house and saw the devil laugh in his face, for example, or a woman who could read strangers' "aura" by picking up the subliminal color surrounding them. I always feel skeptical in response. But since I haven't seen the world through their eyes and can't prove their stories wrong, I'm inclined to smile and nod.

As a critic, I must cut the same slack to Katherine Agranovich's "Tales of My Large, Loud, Spiritual Family," a perplexing memoir about the author's experiences on both sides of the cosmic divide. Agranovich, a Newport Beach hypnotherapist, claims to have the ability to communicate with spirits, along with others in her family. Over the course of these pages, her son receives a vision from the Archangel Michael about his future baby brother, Agranovich and her husband get a consultation from a celestial financial advisor, and her daughter encounters guardian angels who promise her "advice about boys."

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Is this implausible? Well, a few years ago, as a business reporter, I got a palm reading from a local psychic who told me I would soon find myself choosing between a residence inland and one near the beach, and that I would likely marry an older woman. Both came true. When we restrict our perceptions to the material world, the joke may be on us.

But here in the material world, I am stuck on "Tales of My Large, Loud, Spiritual Family," which is amusing in places, moving in others and frustratingly scattershot all around. What, exactly, does Agranovich intend us to feel about her experiences? Sections of the book read like sincere descriptions of the spiritual life, and the prose achieves a poetic intensity. Other times, it reads as farce — the kind of material that might inspire a sitcom or one-woman show about the absurdities of believing in a higher power.

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