Yesterday, I reviewed the new book from Anomalist Books: No Return by David Booher. Coincidentally, on the same day that the review copy arrived in my mailbox, so did another book. This one - which I am reviewing right now - is very different, but no less a great read. Its title is Wood Knocks Volume II: Journal of Sasquatch Research. It's the brainchild of David Weatherly, the author of The Black Eyed Children, among other books. Like the first volume in this ongoing series, the new title both promises and delivers a great deal on all things relative to Bigfoot. Also like Volume I, the new book contains a wealth of papers by well-known figures in the Bigfoot/cryptozoological community.
The list of contributors is as follows: Loren Coleman, Chris O'Brien, Richard Freeman, Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Dave Spinks, Eric Altman, Jeff Stewart, and, finally, David Weatherly himself. The good thing about Wood Knocks II is that the subjects our writers have chosen to focus on are all extremely varied - but also very intriguing and eye-opening. I'll start with Loren. His 16-page paper is titled "Fake News: How Wallace's Fake Footprints Fused With The Film." This is an excellent contribution that gets right to the heart of the saga of a controversial figure who, in the late-1950s, inserted himself into the then-burgeoning Bigfoot scene. His name was Ray Wallace and he died in 2002. Wallace made numerous outlandish claims, when it came to Bigfoot (and to UFOs, too). He also claimed to have pulled the wool over the eyes of various figures in the Bigfoot arena, by faking Bigfoot prints, film-footage and so on.
As Loren notes, when Wallace passed away in 2002, the media had a field day, declaring that Wallace's death also amounted to the death of Bigfoot. With absolutely no evidence to support Wallace's over the top claims at all, the press wrote error-filled articles, published incorrect data, and engaged in lazy journalism - all in their attempts to make the public believe that Bigfoot hunters were a bunch of gullible fools. Loren, thankfully, and clearly bristling with justified anger, places things into their correct context. Wallace, in reality, played not even a single significant role in Bigfoot-seeking. He just caused problems and hassles. But, nowhere near to the extent that the "fake news"-driven media suggested. I've read a lot about Wallace over the years, and this paper is without doubt the best. Loren doesn't just take Wallace's claims to task - he crushes them.
Moving onto completely different territory, Rosemary Ellen Guiley tackles what is surely the most controversial aspect of the Bigfoot enigma: that of the supernatural side of the phenomenon. There's no doubt at all that this angle of Sasquatch lore polarizes people into two camps: (A) those who are absolutely sure that Bigfoot is some sort of unidentified ape and nothing else; and (B) those who feel that there is something strange about Bigfoot; something very strange. There's no getting away from the profound weirdness that dominates this aspect of the phenomenon. Rosemary's paper encompasses the likes of not just sightings of Bigfoot, but also the ominous Men in Black connection, UFOs, telepathy, mysterious "cloaking" abilities on the part of the beasts, and much more. Whatever you think of all this (personally speaking, I strongly veer towards this angle), it makes for fascinating reading.
I always enjoy digging into Richard Freeman's articles, as, for the most part, they revolve around his personal, on-site excursions in lands both exotic and far away. And, that's what you get this time: Rich shares with us his personal quest to track down India's equivalent of Bigfoot. Its name: the mande-burung. It was in 2010 that Rich and his team of Dr. Chris Clark, Adam Davies, and Dave Archer headed off to India to try and figure out what on earth was afoot. Part-road trip and part-diary, Rich's paper - titled "In the Footsteps of the Indian Yeti" - provides the reader with a wealth of person-to-person interviews, and cases old and new. As Rich makes clear, expeditions like this one so often result in the surfacing of a wealth of previously unknown data. When it comes to Cryptozoology, the issue of on-site investigations and expeditions will always be a vital one, and particularly so when you're dealing with something that is, and I quote Rich here, "nine feet tall and covered with black hair."
Jeff Stewart's paper is focused on a subject I know a great deal about: the legendary Goat-Men of Texas, the Lone Star State. Lake Worth and the town of Denton are particular hot-spots for these things, which are incredibly difficult to classify. In fact, you may wonder why a book on Bigfoot even includes a paper on Goat-Men - which are strange, humanoid things that appear to have horns. Yes, really. Jeff speculates, in a very intriguing way, that the Goat-Men may not be anything of the sort. He says: "Could the Bigfoot who live around these lakes have adapted, wearing the horns of animals they have killed as a sort of head dress just as other native tribes have for centuries?" Controversial? Yes! But, as Jeff's research shows, there's definitely something going on. A good, solid paper.
The four remaining papers all have one thing in common: they are regional studies of Bigfoot activity in the United States. Chris O'Brien tackles Central Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico - territory that Chris he all too well. Chris addresses the Native American accounts of hairy giants in the area and the beliefs of the Native people that Bigfoot is "a messenger who appears in evil times as a warning from the Creator that man's disrespect for His sacred instructions has upset the harmony and balance of existence." A number of the cases Chris describes are tinged with distinct weirdness and an air of the surreal - which adds to the mystique of Bigfoot in fine style.
Pennsylvania has a long and rich history of Bigfoot activity - including a famous wave in the early 1970s. Eric Altman, however, takes on a wave of encounters which occurred in Fayette County between 2009 and 2011. He notes, though, that sightings in the area date back decades, even as far back as the 1920s. This is an extremely detailed investigation that, in some respects, reminds me of what was afoot in Point Pleasant, West Virginia with the Mothman in the 1960s. I don't mean there are physical parallels between the two creatures. Rather, I mean that both locales were subjected to intense and regular encounters with mysterious beasts. Eric skillfully captures the air of menace that hit Fayette County. And, still talking about West Virginia...
Dave Spinks gives us a good look into what it means to be a Bigfoot-seeker: in a journal-like format, he provides background on himself and what it was that got him so fascinated by the Bigfoot mystery. Dave shares with us his memories as a child - wandering through mystery-filled woods on dark nights and hearing tales of the "Wooley Booger" which was said to roam the landscape. The Wooley Booger being the local name for you know what! Of course, Dave also provides a wealth of data demonstrating that whatever the Bigfoot are, the phenomenon is undeniably a real one.
Finally, there is David Weatherly. His paper goes by the title of "Silver State Sasquatch." Nevada may not be the first state that springs to mind when one thinks of Bigfoot. But, incredibly, and as David makes very clear, there is an abundance of material to work with - some old and some new. David discusses his investigations undertaken with the aforementioned Dave Spinks, as the two head off in search of Nevada's Bigfoot. The ancient mysteries of Lovelock Cave are discussed, as is a trauma-filled incident on the Pine Nut Mountains. David also digs into the little-known tales of the Tsawhawbitts - giant cannibals who were said to lurk in Jarbridge Canyon and who were known to the Shoshone people.
If you're interested in reading a Bigfoot-themed book that informs, entertains, and makes you deeply ponder on the nature of the beast, Wood Knocks II is definitely one to get.