A very tall tale about a very big bird.

SUPER THUNDERBIRD

Verhines, a veteran truck driver, relates his encounter with a gigantic, mysterious bird.

In July 2018, the author was driving his rig in Pennsylvania near sunset when he saw the enormous bird. In his initial reaction, recorded for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, he stated that it was a larger-than-average bird. He subsequently revised this estimate upward after both watching an episode of MonsterQuest, a TV show, about giant birds and receiving the exact measurements of “his” thunderbird from God in a prophetic vision. His new estimates are staggering: In this book, he claims the creature he saw in Pennsylvania was 50 feet long with a wingspan of 220 feet (twice as long as an adult blue whale), individual feathers as long as 20 feet, and a possible weight of 2,000 pounds, although he suggests it could be as high as 25,000 pounds (twice as heavy as an adult African elephant). “Its wings and body broke through the sky with such a force that I thought I saw it pushing the air,” he writes. “My guess is that it was dive-bombing me at about 150 miles an hour.” Verhines moves from the account of his own sighting to an overview of other “thunderbird” sightings and to a summary of the whole concept of “cryptozoology,” the practice of theorizing about large, undiscovered animals. But he likewise admits that his primary fact-verification process is religious. “When I want to rivet something down in truth,” he writes, “I use Bible verses or Bible ideas to ground my approach.” He writes about large birds like condors and extinct avian dinosaurs like pterosaurs, but since there is no possibility that an animal the size he describes (much less a breeding population of them) could exist, his digressions on history and speculative biology, however entertainingly written, will likely be dismissed by all but the most zealous cryptozoologists.

A very tall tale about a very big bird.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-97-722436-1

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2021

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A powerful melding of image and text inspired by Instagram yet original in its execution.

A BOOK OF DAYS

Smith returns with a photo-heavy book of days, celebrating births, deaths, and the quotidian, all anchored by her distinctive style.

In 2018, the musician and National Book Award–winning author began posting on Instagram, and the account quickly took off. Inspired by the captioned photo format, this book provides an image for every day of the year and descriptions that are by turns intimate, humorous, and insightful, and each bit of text adds human depth to the image. Smith, who writes and takes pictures every day, is clearly comfortable with the social media platform—which “has served as a way to share old and new discoveries, celebrate birthdays, remember the departed, and salute our youth”—and the material translates well to the page. The book, which is both visually impactful and lyrically moving, uses Instagram as a point of departure, but it goes well beyond to plumb Smith’s extensive archives. The deeply personal collection of photos includes old Polaroid images, recent cellphone snapshots, and much-thumbed film prints, spanning across decades to bring readers from the counterculture movement of the 1960s to the present. Many pages are taken up with the graves and birthdays of writers and artists, many of whom the author knew personally. We also meet her cat, “Cairo, my Abyssinian. A sweet little thing the color of the pyramids, with a loyal and peaceful disposition.” Part calendar, part memoir, and part cultural record, the book serves as a rich exploration of the author’s fascinating mind. “Offered in gratitude, as a place to be heartened, even in the basest of times,” it reminds us that “each day is precious, for we are yet breathing, moved by the way light falls on a high branch, or a morning worktable, or the sculpted headstone of a beloved poet.”

A powerful melding of image and text inspired by Instagram yet original in its execution.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-44854-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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Strictly for dittoheads.

RADIO'S GREATEST OF ALL TIME

An unabashed celebration of the late talking head.

Rush Limbaugh (1951-2021) insisted that he had a direct line to God, who blessed him with brilliance unseen since the time of the Messiah. In his tribute, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis calls him “the greatest broadcaster that [sic] ever lived.” That’s an accidental anointment, given checkered beginnings. Limbaugh himself records that, after earning a failing grade for not properly outlining a speech, he dropped out of college—doubtless the cause of his scorn for higher education. This book is a constant gush of cult-of-personality praise, with tributes from Ben Carson, Mike Pence, Donald Trump, and others. One radio caller called Limbaugh “practically perfect” and a latter-day George Washington by virtue of “the magnetism and the trust and the belief of all the people.” Limbaugh insists that conservatives are all about love, though he filled the airwaves with bitter, divisive invective about the evils of liberals, as with this tidbit: “to liberals, the Bill of Rights is horrible, the Bill of Rights grants citizens freedom….The Bill of Rights limits the federal government, and that’s negative to a socialist like Obama.” Moreover, “to Democrats, America’s heartland is ‘flyover’ country. They don’t know, or like, the Americans who live there, or their values.” Worse still for a money machine like Limbaugh, who flew over that heartland in a private jet while smoking fat cigars, liberals like Obama are “trying to socialize profit so that [they] can claim it”—anathema to wealthy Republicans, who prefer to socialize risk by way of bailouts while keeping the profits for themselves. Limbaugh fans will certainly eat this up, though a segment of the Republican caucus in Congress (Marjorie Taylor Greene et al.) might want to read past Limbaugh’s repeated insistence that “peace can’t be achieved by ‘developing an understanding’ with the Russian people.”

Strictly for dittoheads.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2022

ISBN: 9781668001844

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Threshold Editions/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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