Modern Day Cryptozoology: Cassie-la Reviews “Donations to Clarity” by Noah Baird

Donations to Clarity by Noah Baird (Submission)
: Fiction, cryptozoology, satire, humor, Bigfoot is my homeboy (I wish)
: 3.98 out of 5 stars

Summary: The mythical Bigfoot is not so mythical, in this constantly shifting narrative that pairs the ape with a bevy of humans, dangerous and otherwise. Searched for by a covert agency of men in black suits, followed by members of the Sasquatch Research Organization, and confused by a man in a Chewbacca suit, Bigfoot keeps the humor coming and the satire as high as possible.

Did anyone see last night’s made for TV movie Bigfoot starring Danny Bonaduce and Barry Williams? It’s better if you didn’t, because Noah Baird’s bigfoot is nowhere near as enormous, bloodthirsty, or poorly envisioned. In fact, minus the smell, he’s an awesome guy/creature/thing who despite the cover art is not a cyclops. Also, he doesn’t need to terrorize C list celebrities to make his novel worth a read.

The strength of Donations to Clarity lies in the way it is written. The story relies on a constantly shifting narrative from various points of view. At first it’s hard to tell why each person is being given a narrative, but as the story progresses you begin to realize the interconnected nature of the plot. Think Love Actually but with less Alan Rickman and more Bigfoot. You don’t know why the rednecks have a part to play in this story, and then BAM, you find out they’re related to Hugh Grant they’re creating Bigfoot hoaxes to drum up business and end up being on the wrong end of some Bigfoot loving.

One of my favorite narratives goes to newscaster Echo Clyne. Through her, Baird satires modern television, particularly the dumbing down of the news. You know what I’m talking about, Snooki is not real news and you know it! Echo’s news program is lacking in any real news, because it’s what the people really want. At least according to PR manager Mangrove Slimebucket. Instead, she has to interview people claiming to be abducted by aliens while high in space those same aliens laugh whenever probing is mentioned. I imagine they would react the same way to the History Channel’s “Ancient Aliens”. Professor of Thanksgiving indeed.

While I love Echo and her spunk, she does pale in comparison to Bigfoot, who wins the entire book. Bigfoot makes his first appearance mockumentary style, which is pretty fitting. After a group of hikers and campers are attacked and their supplies stolen in the night, it becomes apparent that an unknown creature is involved. What follows is a series of interviews with the bewildered campers interspliced with Bigfoot explaining his actions. When one camper complains that, “It took my glasses”, Bigfoot counters with, “Bigfoot have bad eyes! What? Human think only human have bad eyes. There bear in woods with bad eyes… Always think Bigfoot girl bear.” Touche.

The hilarity continues throughout the book as Bigfoot complains about female Bigfoot, how woman have 12 erogenous zones and men only have one, how he doesn’t bother humans in their homes yet they set up traps and try to wake him up on his day off, the list goes on and on. Bigfoot continues his search for a mate through the website, visits members of a local mental hospital to steal cigarettes from them and tries to live his life without being pestered by us silly humans.

In the background of this hilarious take on cryptozoology is your usual hidden government agency, in this case the P.L.A.N. Planned Liberation Assistance Network. Their job, perceived or otherwise is to naturalize/introduce hidden creatures to the world. After all, you can’t just announce the existence of mythological creatures without preparing humanity for the shock. The organization is led by the so called Dark Agents, AKA men in black, who have been charged with this task for the past 2,000 years. Of course they might have a touch of the supernatural to themselves as well. Through them, we learn of the existence of Greys (aliens), Loch Ness Monsters (yes, plural), Chupacabra (who no one can understand) and the Moth-Men (a law suit is currently pending on behalf of female Moth-Men).

To make matters more confusing, Bigfoot’s antics have also attracted the attention of the Sasquatch Research Organization headed by Jeff and Roy, and the Southern Tier Bigfoot Tours run by Earl, Harry, and Patch. Jeff and Roy are there for purely scientific reasons while the redneck competitors who run the tours are there for profit. They offer tours around areas where Bigfoot has been spotted, and drum up business by faking sitings with the assistance of a Chewbacca costume. Why they keep the bandoliers on I’ll never know.

And then the local law gets involved, who are even more bumbling and useless than most bumbling and useless law enforcement personnel. The dynamic duo is made up of Deputy O’Boogie and Sheriff Flan “the King” Paan. Paan is an Indian Elvis impersonator conceived at an Elvis concert by the world’s first Elvis impersonator. He has a particular habit of peppering his speech with lyrics and perpetually wearing the King’s outfits- yes, even while on duty. He and his compatriot, who for some reason is a Julian Lennon impersonator (Julian Lennon? Really?) constantly stay in character. This takes the law enforcement satire to a whole different level. Sorry Hot Fuzz.

-Interconnecting narratives, fun and interesting way to read the story
-Bigfoot, Bigfoot, Bigfoot! Where’s my Bigfoot?
-Great combination of humor and satire, love the mockumentary section
-High in hilarity and the ridiculous (see Bigfoot)

-With so many story lines, it’s hard to like all of the POVs
-Footnotes were distracting in digital edition

So what have we learned? Bigfoot exists and he’s hysterical, sea monsters and aliens exist and the latter probe people for their own amusement, and that you need to support independent publishing. Which also exists. Most importantly: support independent publishing!


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