Sunday, October 16, 2011


Snakehead: A Fish Out Of Water was penned by Eric Jay Dolin and came out in 2003 through Smithsonian Books. Normally not the place you'd expect to find such an entertaining story, but there you go. I SIMPLY CANNOT RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TOO HIGHLY, no matter how far along you are in your transformation from Shaved Monkey to fully aquatic. In fact, even an unimproved, 100% human should get quite a kick out of it.
What's so great about this one? Let me enlighten you:

>> As a rule, the books I read and review for you here at The Notes are not really about fish. They are about WHAT NAKED APES THINK ABOUT FISH. This book comes right out and admits that fact.

>> The author makes no bones about the fact that what Naked Apes think about fish is, well, STOOPID.

>> As you read you will learn a great deal about how the Shaved Monkeys think. They go on and on about their superior intelligence and penetrating insights, but let's get real, THEY DROP EVERYTHING AND FREAK OUT IF YOU TELL THEM A SCARY STORY. This happens to be a scary story about a fish. On page after page, you see this or that scientist or expert get shouted down by the spaz cases who want to believe that they are all about to be eaten alive by twelve-foot amphibious lake monsters. You could really die laughing as you read.

>> The book takes us, pretty much day by day, through the Summer of the Snakehead (2002), and starts you right out with the guy who caught a good-sized operative at Crofton Pond and let her go because he thought she looked pregnant. Awww, isn't it cute when they do something that will get them all KILLED and EATEN? From there the story was off and running, because he couldn't quite figure out the species and sent some photos to the DNR. They told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on...

>> Next thing any of us knew, John Stewart and Stephen Colbert were covering the fracas over at The Daily Show. WE KNEW WE'D HIT THE BIG TIME AT THAT POINT. It was awesome. Hiding behind this smokescreen, the Asian Carp made more progress up the Mississippi River, UNNOTICED AND UNMOLESTED, than at any other time in their campaign. I truly believe that an Asian Carp could have launched herself out of the water and jammed herself up the President's nose that summer without anyone even noticing. IT WAS ALL ABOUT THE SNAKEHEADS.

>> You and I, of course, know THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY. Our operative -- who was, indeed, expecting -- knew her cover had been blown as soon as the fisherman's buddy got out his camera. At this moment, unbeknownst to the Shaved Monkeys, IT WAS ALREADY ALL OVER. Long before the DNR saw those photos, the operative had led a detachment of her compatriots into the nearby Little Patuxent River, leaving behind only those who had NO SENSITIVE INFORMATION TO REVEAL. Expert fish scientist type guys spent the summer sandbagging, defoliating and poisoning the pond, NEVER KNOWING THEIR WORST FEARS WERE ALREADY REALIZED. It's enough to make a cat laugh.

>> Disappointments? Well, yes, there were a few in here. Like so many books that come out these days, this one could have benefited from a thorough copyediting. Even I know the difference between "bare" and "bear," for crying out loud. Also, the story stops short at the fall of 2002, and you never get to read the horrified commentary about the Snakeheads who took over the Potomac, essentially SURROUNDING the nation's capital. Also, while the author touches on the panics surrounding the infestations of earlier decades -- the killer bees of course, the Sea Lampreys and, Yours Truly, the Walking Catfish -- he never got all that deeply into those branches of the story. THAT WAS A BIG MISTAKE.

But these are only minor quibbles. THIS ONE BELONGS IN EVERY OPERATIVE'S HOME LIBRARY.

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