The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac

Does Sasquatch exist? He does for nine-year-old Eli Roebuck--he's his mother Agnes's boyfriend. The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac, the first novel from Sharma Shields (Favorite Monster), is a charming, witty, fairytale-like story with just the right touches of magic realism and darkness.

The "almanac" has 21 chapters that cover the years 1943 to 2006, each from a different character's point of view. In 1943, Eli's "kind but aloof" mother frequently vanishes into the woods surrounding their home on the Washington/Idaho border. One day, when Eli's father was at work, Agnes tells her son that she has invited "someone who is very dear to her" to the house. In Mr. Krantz, Eli didn't see a man but an "enormous ape," whose hair smelled "like a musty bearskin rug singed with a lit match." His shoeless feet were "two hairy sleds" (thus began his obsession with feet; Eli becomes a podiatrist). Eventually, his mom walked into the woods with her suitcase and never came back.

On this clever, absurdist magic-carpet ride of Eli's long-running search for Mr. Krantz (and his mom), Shields introduces a hole with no bottom (where Eli's dog, Mother, is buried), Eli's two wives, his daughters, unicorns that bleed silver blood, lake monsters and more. A lesser writer would lose control of all this, but Shields proves her acuity with a smart narrative, great characters and an ending to die for. --Tom Lavoie, former publisher

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