Thursday, 25 September 2014

Scary Monsters and Super Creeps: In Search of the World's Most Hideous Beasts by Dom Joly

A couple of years ago I read Joly's amazing "The Dark Tourist". It was at once informative and laugh out loud funny. Learning about the touristic "delights" of "taboo" destinations, such as discovering that you can ski in Iran, as an absolute joy. I guess Joly was hoping to recapture that perfect travel book balance again with Scary Monsters and Super Creeps. Unfortunately he fails on one front.

This book is still laugh out loud funny. I was desperately containing snorts of laughter on the train to and from work. For that along it is worth the read, Joly has a way of seeing the world that makes his grumpy old man character seem endearing rather than tiring. However his "search" for some of cryptozoology's biggies (he calls them the "Big Six"), leaves a lot to be desired.

If you want to find out about the culture of foreign airports, basic infrastructure and how big a fool Joly sometimes felt as he gets himself into allsorts of scraps ("Are you looking for Ogopogo?" is all I'm saying!) then this is the book for you. If you want to know anything about the veracity of the tales about the "Big Six", look elsewhere.

He does take a video of a "sighting" of Ogopogo but he doesn't even take basic steps to try and work out what it really is. Here's a video that could, you never know, blow this case wide open. Or it could be some fish having a bit of a fight (which hey, might have been enlightening!). But he just moves on. He never makes it past the nearest village to Mokele Mbembe's purported location, he spends lots of time in Hiroshima and Nagasaki rather than actually looking for the Hibagon and he doesn't, understandably, get to the sort of altitudes in Nepal where the yeti is mostly reported from. And we hear more about his hot tub social encounters in Inverness than the Loch Ness monster.

It all felt very half-hearted and that just made it feel a little pointless. A shame really as it is still pretty hilarious. 

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