BJ Hollars explores creatures, aliens, and bizarre happenings across flyover country, from mothmen and giant turtles to pancake delivering flying saucers, and even Wisconsin's own Beast of Bray Road, Hodag, Project Elf, and those space pancakes. Hollars does not intend to debunk the existence of these enigmas. Rather, he wants to explore and understand the mysteries and how they inform and impact us all. Using historical documents, first person accounts, and expert information, Hollars digs deep to understand the riveting and surprisingly long-lasting impacts these legends have on our communities. They have transformed worldviews, created economies, and brought us closer together. Hollars is able to do this all while blurring the lines between journalism and memoir. Midwestern Strange is a nice combination of academic writing and readability. I was amazed at the precision in the writing; every case is handled with care and intrigue, which leads to an engrossing and fascinating read. Midwestern Strange is the perfect read for anyone who is interested in the otherworldly or simply understanding the ways in which we understand and make sense of the world around us.— Parker Jensen
Midwestern Strange chronicles B.J. Hollars’s exploration of the mythic, lesser-known oddities of flyover country. The mysteries, ranging from bipedal wolf sightings to run-ins with pancake-flipping space aliens to a lumberjack-inspired “Hodag hoax,” make this book a little bit X-Files, a little bit Ghostbusters, and a whole lot of Sherlock Holmes. Hollars’s quest is not to confirm or debunk these mysteries but rather to seek out these unexplained phenomena to understand how they complicate our worldview and to discover what truths might be gleaned by reexamining the facts in our “post-truth” era.
Part memoir and part journalism, Midwestern Strange offers a fascinating, funny, and quirky account of flyover folklore that also contends with the ways such oddities retain cultural footholds. Hollars shows how grappling with such subjects might fortify us against the glut of misinformation now inundating our lives. By confronting monsters, Martians, and a cabinet of curiosities, we challenge ourselves to look beyond our presumptions and acknowledge that just because something is weird, doesn’t mean it is wrong.
About the Author
B.J. Hollars is an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. He is the author of numerous books, including This Is Only a Test, From the Mouths of Dogs: What Our Pets Teach Us about Life, Death, and Being Human (Nebraska, 2015), and Thirteen Loops: Race, Violence, and the Last Lynching in America.
Hollars is the founder and executive director of the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild. He lives a simple existence with his wife, their children, and their dog.
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