Tag Archives: Lyle Blackburn

Review: Wood Knocks – various authors

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I have made my views on the creature known as Sasquatch plain in other articles for this blog. I have made it clear that I think that at least some of the giants people are seeing in the woods are kin to the Faery and do not belong completely to this world. In the parlance of modern paranormalists, I think Sasquatch is an inter-dimensional being that is capable of walking into our world and back out of it, pretty much at will.

That said, I greatly admire the work of the people who actually go into the woods looking for the creature and who spend their time talking to witnesses, setting camera traps and even flying drones hoping for a glimpse of the elusive ‘booger’. While I think that a lot of them just might be tilting at windmills, it is still admirable that they have the strength of their convictions and are willing to walk their talk.

The new anthology from Leprechaun Press, Wood Knocks, Volume 1: A Journal of Sasquatch Research is a collection of articles from the sorts of people who have devoted their lives to exploring the strange and especially to looking for cryptid creatures such as the Sasquatch. The anthology is an easy read, at just over 200 pages, so do not expect extensive or detailed articles, but it is packed with information that new and experienced Sasquatch aficionados will find interesting and informative.  In my view, the cover art by Sam Shearon is worth the price of the book, all by itself.

The meat of the book is quite good as well.  Whether we are talking Sasquatch amongst the First Nations people (David Weatherly) or hunting the Orang-Pendek in Sumatra (Richard Freeman) or talking about the presence of Sasquatch in Wisconsin and its surrounding areas (Linda Godfrey), the writing is, with one notable exception, crisp and there are cases in the book that I had not heard of, side by side, with some of the old standards. I enjoyed this chance to ‘touch base’ with the work of many authors that I admire and some that I did not know.  Freeman’s article on the Orang-Pendek made me think that the Sumatrans may have a genuine undiscovered species in their midst.

Having said that, there is one article in the anthology that is a confused, rambling mess and could have easily been cut from the line up with no damage to the work. As I noted above, readers will be able to discern this one quickly and will have to decide for themselves whether the tidbits of information in the article are worth the pain of reading the disjointed ramblings of someone with entirely too much research and not enough space to present it cogently.

I would have been quite happy if that article had been cut and the other writers given more space to present their research. I had the feeling, in several of the sections, that the authors had a lot more to say but were unable to do so due to the editorial pen or space limitations or both. This is a real shame since, as I mentioned, there is quite a lot of original research amongst the articles. I would have been particularly interested to see Micah Hanks spin his thoughts on abductions out further and Nick Redfern’s article on infrasound was interesting but too short.

Wood Knocks is noted as volume 1 of a journal of Sasquatch research. If this is going to be a continuing series of works then the series is off to a good start and, with some minor tweaks, I can see such a series becoming a respected reference amongst those Sasquatch researchers willing to flex their minds a bit and look at new ideas, even if they do not agree with them.

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Book Review: Lizard Man by Lyle Blackburn

I hate to sound like an elitist snob but I find the majority of books written about paranormal or cryptozoological phenomenon to be rather sub-standard. While I am sure that the authors are well meaning and are trying to inform me about their particular area of interest, too often, the book is either an endless series of sightings/incidents which all begin to sound the same after a while or the author is shamelessly promoting his or her specific view about whatever he or she is ‘investigating’.

I use the term investigating with some trepidation since it is also very obvious that some of these so called sightings were pulled from internet sources that are questionable at best. Frankly, I don’t give a darn what the National Enquirer or other papers of that ilk have to say about anything unless the author is speaking about pop culture or making a point about the silliness that can ensue around our favorite ‘critters’.

Please note, I am not pointing fingers here. As I said, I am sure that the authors of whom I am speaking are doing their best to try to present information on their topic but shoddy research is shoddy research. Anyone with any academic background will look at sources before they even read a book, if they have the chance. Unfortunately, it is difficult to do that in this age of the Kindle so I have found myself ‘treated’ to some really awful books in my quest for information about my favorite topic.

Frankly, when Lyle Blackburn published his first book on the Beast of Boggy Creek back in 2012, I thought that the book might fall into the category above. I had only heard of the author peripherally and had no idea what his investigative credentials were. I was pleasantly surprised by that book and Mr. Blackburn is continuing this streak with Lizard Man: The True Story of the Bishopville Monster. The book is available in paper and on Kindle.

While I suspect that Anomalist Books needs a copy editor, the book is, overall, very well written. Mr. Blackburn has a talent for getting into an area, getting to know the locals, exploring newspaper archives and other sources (yes, including the internet) and producing a work that inserts the reader straight into the heart of the mystery. In this case, the author spent time in the Bishopville, SC area exploring the monster sightings that came to be known as the Lizard Man. Before he is done, Mr. Blackburn has given the reader a thorough grounding in the sightings that accompanied the case, introduced the reader to the important players and witnesses in the story, given us a feel for Scape Ore Swamp and provided the reader with some history of the region going back into stories from the local First Nation people.

Once Mr. Blackburn has acquainted us intimately with the story and its setting, he goes on to speculate about what this monster might be. As with the Boggy Creek book, this author does not lock onto a pet theory and espouse that idea to the exclusion of others. He is frankly willing to let a mystery be a mystery and covers theories about the Lizard Man ranging from animal misidentification to a moss overgrown Sasquatch to alien reptoids. Mr. Blackburn also acquaints the reader with other, similar cases although, given his space limitations he has to give admittedly short shrift to these sightings.

One of the factors that stands out in both of Mr. Blackburn’s books is his willingness to not only do the research but to visit the scene of the sightings and give the reader a glimpse into the atmosphere that underlies the sightings he is writing about. It is this atmospheric quality that really makes Mr. Blackburn’s books stand out. The reader knows that he has ‘been there’ and the sterile, “this sighting could have occurred anyplace on earth” feeling that one gets in some texts is totally lacking here.

Honestly, I was a little put off by the subject of the book since I had little to no acquaintance with this set of circumstances. I bought the book based solely on the author and my previous very positive experience of this work. I can say frankly that I am glad that I did. Lizard Man: The True Story of the Bishopville Monster is a fascinating read that will leave the reader with not only a thorough knowledge of the topic but also a real taste of the mystery surrounding the case. For anyone who has not read Lyle Blackburn’s work, I highly recommend both books as examples of good writing about the monsters and mysteries that make themselves apparent in our world.