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BU alum publishes ‘humorous’ memoir on 21st century dating

For Jana Eisenstein, a 2004 Boston University alumna from the College of Arts and Sciences, writing was always just a hobby. She never envisioned that she’d write a book, until one particularly devastating breakup in 2014 which catapulted her into the process.

Boston University alumna Jana Eisenstein’s book “Ghosted: Dating & Other Paranormal Experiences.” Eisenstein’s recently published memoir reflects on dating in the 21st century, inspired by a bad breakup. ANH NGUYEN/DFP STAFF

Eisenstein’s memoir, “Ghosted: Dating & Other Paramoural Experiences,” was published Jan. 25 by Atmosphere Press, an independent publishing company based in Austin, Texas. Each chapter of the book delves into a different relationship from a 10-year period, 2004 to 2014.

The memoir details her experiences meeting and dating men online and at bars, with a focus on “teas[ing] out the parts that are funny about [the relationships]” Eisenstein said, otherwise “it takes away from the power from the story.”

“That’s how I approached a lot of the bad things that have happened in my life,” she said. “I sit with them and then I try to figure out what’s funny about them, so I just ended up with a whole bunch of sad stories that I turned into humorous stories.”

Trista Edwards, developmental editor at Atmosphere Press, was “struck by Ghosted’s candidness and Jana’s willingness to be vulnerable.”

“A lot of memoirs come across my desk and, believe it or not, not all writers are really as willing to hold a mirror up to themselves,” Edwards wrote in an email. “Jana’s writing looked the mirror dead on. She was willing to dive into the ups and downs of dating and personal growth, failures and all.”

Claire Denson, one of Atmosphere Press’s publicity managers, said “it’s a wonderful feeling” to have the book published.

“Our goal is to get the word out there to heighten the book’s visibility and to help her and equip [her] with the tools to learn from this experience,” Claire said.

Eisenstein said her work as a columnist for The Daily Free Press her freshman year helped her understand the experience of publishing work.

“It did help me realize that if I am going to put my own personal stories out into the world, I really need to be comfortable with people reacting to them,” Eisenstein said. “It took me a long time to get to a place where I felt comfortable saying yes, this is my story.”

After graduating BU in 2004, Eisenstein went to George Washington University’s School of Public Health for her master’s degree —sure of her love for the sciences, but unsure about what to do with her biology degree. It is here, in the muggy, political city of Washington D.C., that “Ghosted” began.

To dream up a concept for the cover of the book — a red silhouette of a woman looking at a ghost emerging from her phone against a blue background — Eisenstein spent over two weeks working with Ronaldo Alves, the art director at Atmosphere Press.

“Jana was great to work with,” Alves wrote in an email. “She was willing to see our crazy ideas and had great comments on how to improve the chosen concept. It was a really fun process.”

Edwards emphasized Eisenstein’s openness to criticism to improve the book.

“The process itself is very vulnerable because it sometimes means killing your darlings,” Edwards said. “Jana was always willing to hold that knife up and cut when needed.”

While friends and family have been supportive of the book’s publishing, some relatives have made it clear that they don’t plan to read it for themselves. Eisenstein understands where they come from.

“It’s a deeply personal book,” she said. “It’s not necessarily something you want your father to read.”

Yet even without some family members onboard, Eisenstein said she realized how much the book has helped her process events and better her relationships.

“Writing it was therapy for me,” she said. “Since writing this book my dating life has been much better. The quality of people that I’ve let into my life has improved drastically.”

Eisenstein said that since the stories in “Ghosted” end in 2014, she already has another book full of experiences from the last eight years. For now, however, she plans to spend the next six months promoting her memoir.

“Holding it in my hands and seeing it as a tangible thing that I know is going to be out in the world is just such a moment of pride,” she said.

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