The Unidentified: Mythical Monsters, Alien Encounters, and Our Obsession with the Unexplained

Colin Dickey. Viking, $27 (320p) ISBN 978-0-525-55756-2
Dickey (Ghostland), a National University creative writing professor, leads readers on a fascinating expedition through fringe belief and theory. Conducting extensive research into cryptozoology, UFOlogy, and other pseudoscientific fields, he investigates myths throughout the U.S., from Northern California’s Mount Shasta, inside which the possibly extraterrestrial Lemurians are said to dwell, to the “southern New Jersey creature of note,” the Jersey Devil, a fusion between Lenape myth and Puritan folklore reborn in the early 20th century as a “money-making hoax” when a kangaroo was passed off to paying crowds as the captured Devil. Dickey posits various ideas about why unproven and outlandish stories exert such a hold on the imagination: conspiracy theories upset the divide between science and religion, while the concept of humanlike animals such as the Bigfoot “trouble[s] the line between human and nonhuman” and “interrupts the categories we make to make sense of the world.” With a wry tone and incisive analysis, Dickey explores how these stories have developed alongside the country through scientific innovations, evolving frontiers, changing ideas about race, and more. Readers will find this to be a thought-provoking and deliciously unsettling guide into the stranger corners of American culture. Agent: Anna Sproul-Latimer, Neon Literary. (July)
Reviewed on : 03/18/2020
Release date: 07/21/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-0-525-55757-9
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