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Reviews Last Updated: Jan 4th, 2007 - 01:08:31

Disseminating truth is a perilous endeavor
By K�llia Ramares
Online Journal Associate Editor

Mar 1, 2006, 00:26

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Looking for Bigfoot: A Novel for America
By Mike Palecek
ISBN: 1-882-863-60-7
Paperback 269 pp. $15.95
Howling Dog Press, 2005

He had got the words out and now the whole bus knew. They knew some of the truth. Most did not like him, or care about him or what he had to say, but some folks did, and it had to be a help that someone knew the truth, or at least that someone was looking.�Looking for Bigfoot, p. 163.

I read little fiction and review even less of it. So when I started reading the political novel �Looking for Bigfoot,� my first thought was that when a political message is conveyed in an art form, be it novel, play, poem, stand-up comedy, musical piece, or painting, the art form has to first work as art. Otherwise, you just have propaganda masquerading as art.

And because I don�t read much fiction, I wasn�t sure if I was qualified to determine if this book works as a novel. But then I figured that reading the book was all the qualification I needed. By the end, I decided that �Looking for Bigfoot� did work as a novel, but just barely. This book requires perseverance to get the artistic payoff, too much perseverance, perhaps, for readers who don�t already subscribe to the novel�s political messages.

Those messages are that the U.S. government was behind the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, Jr. -- the name of Palecek�s semi-autobiographical main character is Jack Robert King -- as well as the 9-11 attacks and the death of Senator Paul Wellstone, among other things; and if you are deemed too successful in disseminating the truth about the government�s evil deeds, Uncle Sam will come after you. Agreeing with what many dismiss as conspiracy theories, or at least being open-minded about the book�s politics, makes it easier for a reader to stick with the book. But it takes too long for Palecek to set up the plot. The opening third of the novel will please those who agree with the political messages, but it does not work well artistically because of too much situational repetition and insufficient development of characters other than the protagonist, Jack Robert King.

King is a stay-at-home husband, father, unpublished novelist and Internet radio programmer, who does a show called Bigfoot Radio from a room in the house that is part of the Iowa set of the movie �Field of Dreams,� (The baseball movie of �If you build it, they will come� fame). Eventually, King really goes looking for Bigfoot (and his old high school baseball coach) in Oregon, laptop computer, sound-editing program and other gear in tow, so that he can literally take his show on the road. But Jack doesn�t board a bus for Oregon until page 100, in Chapter 20, of this 269-page novel. Until then, we get many snippets of the Bigfoot Radio show, with its signature opening, �Is this Heaven? No, It�s Iowa,� which quickly reminded me of Robin Williams in the movie �Good Morning, Vietnam.� Palececk uses these �chapters,� some of which are less than a page long, to lay out his political positions, with the help of opening quotes from an array of sources ranging from poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, to mainstream reporter Daniel Schorr, right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh and 9-11 research web site

We occasionally hear about or from King�s wife Cherry, a vice-principal in the local school district, and their two children, Johnny and Leigh. But they are not sharply-drawn characters. To me, they were a device to show that Jack�s obsession with Bigfoot and the truth about American society and politics, as he sees it, exacts a heavy toll in the form of stress on his marriage and family life. But frankly, the superficial presence of wife and children annoyed me. I am single and childless and many of my friends are the same or are partnered without benefit of marriage, or children. People with legal spouses and children are not the only ones who face risks and costs in pursuing unconventional dreams.

Jack�s trip to Oregon by bus was to a certain extent familiar, though I have not traveled that exact route, or during that time of year, winter. Because I have traveled in the western part of America several times by bus, I found myself interested in how Palecek portrayed it, and this carried me through the middle of �Looking for Bigfoot.� There is a bit more interaction with other characters in this section of the book. But the �action� and interaction of the book doesn�t really pick up until Jack reaches Oregon. Here �Looking for Bigfoot� reads more like a traditional novel and it is easier to care about Jack�s fate while also digesting the political messages.

Palecek has talent with the language; I underlined the sentence, �A minute slipped past, disguised as an hour,� because I liked the turn of phrase. I also like his politics. So I recommend �Looking for Bigfoot� to anyone, left wing or right wing, who thinks the United States government hates our freedom. But I would also suggest to Palecek that he further develop his plot construction skills, and that he better match his choice of dedications to his politics. Amy Goodman and Greg Palast have been no help to people like Michael Ruppert and David Ray Griffin who are trying to uncover the government�s role in 9-11. Yet all four are part of Palecek�s lengthy list of dedications.

� 2006, K�llia Ramares. For Fair Use Only.

K�llia Ramares� websites are Radio Internet Story Exchange and Down the Left Field Line: Life, Baseball & Eric Byrnes. She can be contacted at or via a comment on the Byrnesblog.

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