Sunday, December 18, 2016


WELL, WHAT CAN I SAY ABOUT THIS LITTLE BOOK? Let's start at the shallow end by telling you that the International Standard Book Number for the hardcover edition is 978-0871402837.  As you can see by the jacket, this was written by a (100% human) author named Matthew Frank, and short of simply TELLING YOU TO READ IT, well, it's just...hard to describe.  He clearly set out at some point to tell us the story of the first man ever to photograph the mighty, and until that time UTTERLY MYSTERIOUS, Giant Squid.  He just lucked into the opportunity because one of our operatives (she had no human name) washed up on a beach near where he lived at the time, on the outcropping known to the featherless bipeds as Newfoundland.

Frank does, and doesn't, tell us the story.  He goes all over the place, telling us all about his enormously fat musician grandfather, the fact that his wife is from South Africa, speculating wildly on the colors of the Squid photographer's soap and washcloth, mentioning in passing that he himself has spina bifida, talking a lot about ice cream, and in general giving us a GREAT demonstration of the true power of this particular detachment of the Fish Army:  the Giant Squid has the power to drive Shaved Monkeys MAD.  The sentence structure in this book, all by itself, should tell you that the guy is COMING UNGLUED.  I'm not at all sure how Naked Ape readers would respond to this book, but speaking to you now as a Catfish, I have to say I caught only occasional flashes of the story he claims to be telling us.  He was too busy ranting to stick to the subject.

And I happen to know he left a lot of the story out.  The worldwide FRENZY created by the discovery of this unlucky operative is barely mentioned.  He glosses over the deep, powerful connection between the real-life operative and the Kraken of seafaring legend.  The DECADES of effort to find another operative of this type gets just a couple of sentences.  Why?  Clearly Frank, too, has GONE MAD.

WHY, you ask, would we want to drive sane monkeys mad?  For starters, some of them react to that situation by flinging themselves into the sea.  So, hey, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!  Beyond that, it's ENDLESSLY FASCINATING to watch a member of another species doing something you yourself can never do -- like watching bats catching insects on the wing or watching a dog find something it can't see by following the smell it picked up from an old sock, watching a human go gaga is PRETTY COOL.  And -- let's be honest -- PRETTY FUNNY.  I got many laughs out of this book, and the closer you are to completing your transformation from human to fish, the funnier I would expect YOU to find it.  It may not make such a great Squidmas gift to a new recruit, though.  The reaction I've been seeing from that crowd is more or less "but they hardly ever talk about the Giant Squid at all in here!"  It may be that only a fish can see the reach of the tentacles through the text of this essay.


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