Book review: ‘Bigfoot and the Baby’
Ryan Summerlin June 11, 2014
“Bigfoot and the Baby,” written by Ann Gelder and published by Lake Tahoe’s Bona Fide Books, is a creative and complex dark comedy. Gelder has crafted a multifaceted, provocative story coupled with an edgy sci-fi vibe that spices the pot. The book focuses on a dysfunctional family mired in crisis and introduces irony and humor from the start. But satire is what keeps the wheels turning. “Bigfoot and the Baby” will test your sensibilities and tease your imagination from page one.
The story takes place in 1986 after the space-shuttle disaster. The Majesky’s live in Morton, a small, desert community outside of Bakersfield, Calif. The struggle to find meaning in this hot, dusty, dried-up town is challenging. Jackie, a newly saved Christian, is convinced the rapture is imminent and joyously awaits its coming. She’s certain the shuttle explosion is yet another sign. But there’s a problem. Husband Kyle, a police officer by trade but entertainer at heart, and Katie, their “punk” teenage daughter, are not believers. Baby Mollie, however, is sure to be saved since all babies go to heaven and because of her exceptional grace and beauty. She has one flaw though, she cries nonstop. Could she be carrying the weight of the world on her tiny shoulders? A prophet perhaps? Jackie continues to urge Kyle and Katie to repent to no avail. Low days are not uncommon, but Jackie carries out her mundane homemaking chores and takes up running to shake off her angst. Then one day God speaks to her. “Get a job,” he says. She lands a retail position in town where she meets Harry Ricker, the CEO of CarlsMart. Ricker is mesmerized by Mollie in spite of her constant wailing. He offers a solution to comfort her and then poses an unbelievable proposition. The seemingly perfect plan is foiled when an interloper emerges.
Characters have issues making it difficult to cheer them on. Jackie is a self-righteous hypocrite, Katie has attitude and anger and Kyle is a dreamer who lacks talent and a backbone. Harry is handsome and shrewd but also depressed. Several pointed personalities are introduced, some pricklier than others, although redeeming qualities for a few surface on occasion. Ultimately Gelder’s characters add dimension to her plot, even with all of their blemishes. Yes, an epiphany of sorts takes place and characters get a fresh look.
“Bigfoot and the Baby” touches on a variety of social issues that seep through the pages and pick at the scabs of weighty topics until they’re tender and sore. Before the pain takes hold we laugh out loud instead. Absurdity and biting wit prevail at the end of the day. The reset button is pressed, allowing a brand-new beginning.
Book club discussion anyone? This novel is sure to provoke hearty dialogue. Each reader will have a version of their own based on perspective, sense of humor or perhaps differing worldviews. Interesting discussions are assured.
“Bigfoot and the Baby” can be purchased at www.bonafidebooks.com or at its headquarters, 1069 Magua Street in Meyers. It’s also available at Gaia-Licious, 987 Tallac Ave. in South Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe Community College will also host a book signing with Gelder in the library at 7 p.m. June 13.
Gloria Sinibaldi resides part-time in South Lake Tahoe. Her short story, “A Means To Survive,” appears in “Tahoe Blues.” She is a job coach, trainer and author. Contact her at: email@example.com.