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The Mothman Prophecies

John A. Keel

Illuminet Press

US Trade Paperback

ISBN 0-926534-3-8

275 Pages ; $16.95



Non-Fiction, Horror

01-25-02, 01-31-02, 06-07-02, 06-19-02,07-25-02, 11-23-02

Lots of writers set out to document the strange and unusual, the unbelievable weird stories that are the daily fodder of the funniest counter-factual tabloids. Few however, have had the success of John Keel, who, in 'The Mothman Prophecies', manages to document a series of events while being caught up in them. Keel's work of non-fiction reads like a crazy-quilt metafictional novel. It's full of bigger-than-life characters, weird monsters and pointless prophets. Keel himself is the biggest bigger-than-life character, a proto-Mulder who finds himself, in 1967, in a small West Virginia town that's being assaulted by what can only be described as an agressive unreality.

Keel's book is a cornerstone work for any reader seriously interested in a fantastic (as in fantasy) and fabulous (as in fables) de-construction of small-town Americana in the 1960's. He's Philip K. Dick in a pork-pie hat, chasing down winged creatures, men in black, prophetic dreams and problematic phones. Keel's book is based on actual events, events that were documented by others and experienced by many. But what John Keel brings to the party is something unique: his 'Our Haunted Planet' hypothesis, and something not so unique, but something that's a lot of help when your describing reality -- a sense of humor. He's also a skilled storyteller, not a cut and dried documentarian. He was there, and he tells us the story from his point of view, with all the backstory he'd accumulated while writing classic works of "paranormal expose" like 'Disneyland of the Gods' and 'Operation Trojan Horse'.

'The Mothman Prophecies' by John A. Keel takes the reader through thirteen months of complete weirdness that enveloped a typical small town in America, Point Pleasant, West Virginia. And this is complete weirdness, not just monsters and predictions.

This is men and women out of place, strangely dressed, absurd pranks and humorous jokes, terrifying visions, senseless and illogical "monsters" that don't threaten other than by simply being really out of place. Keel's sanity, possibly tenuous at best, given his past lines of work, is put to the test, but it clearly wins out. He's not suckered into simple, closed explanations. He's not buying anybody's party line other than his own.

In the back of Keel's mind, and interspersed in the narrative, are events that took place years ago and miles away. James V. Forrestal (you've heard about the aircraft carrier named after him), the Secretary of the Navy who went bonkers in the Pentagon. Bostonian William Denton, given a guided tour of Venus in the 1860's. UFO's from which emerge our favorite cryptid, Bigfoot. Contactees, mysterious dog tracks, phone pranks. It's not just scary, it's funny. Whatever is behind the Mothman Prophecies understands why horror movies are also, often convulsively funny. Imagine Philip K. Dick, off his meds, and looking into some UFO shenanigans and you'll get a feel for the truly crazy quilt that is John A. Keel's 'The Mothman Prophecies'. While neither the reader nor Keel will be able to reach any world-changing conclusions by the end of the story, both most certainly come away changed.