Sharma Shields – The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac
Length: 400 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction / Fantasy-ish Magical Realism
Started: 20 May 2015
Finished: 27 May 2015
Where did it come from? LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program.
Why do I have it? The “my mother abandoned me for Bigfoot” premise caught my eye.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 15 December 2014.
Having your mom run
off with Bigfoot will put a
crimp in your childhood.
Summary: When Eli Roebuck was nine years old, his mother wakes him up early and introduces him to Mr. Krantz, a gigantic, hairy man who doesn’t speak much. She then tells Eli she loves him, and walks with Mr. Krantz off into the forest, leaving Eli behind forever. As Eli grows up, he becomes obsessed with Mr. Krantz, who he comes to believe is a sasquatch. This obsession dominates not only Eli’s own life, but also the lives of his wives, his children, his grandchildren, and everyone around him – many of whom have their own chance encounters with the improbable, the mythic, or the monstrous. But Eli’s obsession is singular, isolating him from all human connection, and locking him in a life-long conflict with the mysterious monster – or man? – that he feels ruined his life.
Review: While this seemed like a book I should have liked, it didn’t really do much for me, and I’m having a hard time putting my finger quite on why. Part of it is certainly that while this book features several mythical creatures, it’s not (really) fantasy in the way that most genre readers would use the label. It’s much more literary fiction with a heavy dose of magical realism – there’s always the possibility that Mr. Krantz really is just an exceptionally hairy human – and the creatures are more metaphor than magic. Another part of it is that I really disliked basically all of the characters, which, while I understand that their basic unsympathetic-ness was intentional on the part of the author, also meant that I wasn’t particularly eager to spend time with them and their stories, so it became very easy to put this book down and very tough to find the motivation to pick it back up again. The writing itself was lovely, and there was some very nice imagery and turns of phrase, but I had a hard time picking out what the themes of the book were (other than “obsession leads to isolation,” which, yes, I got that) so ultimately I didn’t really feel like I got a lot out of this book. 3 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: It reminded me most of Erick Setiawan’s Of Bees and Mist, even though they’re not at all similar story-wise. But I’ll paraphrase what I said in my review of that book for this one: If you like your fiction literary, your realism magical, and your stepfathers with mythically large and hairy feet, then this is your book!
Other Reviews: Couldn’t find any. Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: Eli Roebuck lived with his parents, Greg and Agnes, in a tiny cabin near Stateline.
Vocab: (see the whole list)
- p. 103: “Shame had been unnecessary and useless here in the guts of the boscage. But now it riddled him.” – A mass of trees or shrubs; a thicket.
- p. 150: “But no one was a creep out there on the water, not when they were fishing kokanee in the dead of winter.” – A small, landlocked sockeye salmon, often stocked in lakes.
- p. 213: “Boys could be mischevious and violent, but girls were vituperative, emotionally sensitive.” – Using, containing, or marked by harshly critical or irate language.
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