I enjoy a bigfoot yarn as much as any modern-day Homo erectus. But to be honest, Down From Beast Mountain is only a so-so novel. As a reader, you will probably enjoy the soapy social antics surrounding the small mountainside community of Porterville. And I’m certain you’ll get a rush from the Bigfoot violence at the end of the book.
But if you’re looking for anything else—any kind of nuance or specifics—you can forget about it. The devil is in the details and there aren’t many details in this 2017 effort from author Gerry Griffiths.
In particular, there’s one huge elusive detail that persists throughout the novel. For 131 pages, the author never delivers a satisfying description of his monster. After a while it becomes kind of puzzling. Why would he write a gonzo cryptid caper with so much potential but with such indifferent language? Note to Mr. Griffiths: Descriptive language heightens the aesthetic value of the text. It’s kind of important.
When the beast first shows up (page three), he’s simply a dark shadow in the night. In the distance, his “loud roar booms like a cranky lion at feeding time.”
Later, as he’s destroying a restaurant, a convenience store and a supermarket, he’s continually described as a big brawny bear (or maybe a hairy ape). He’s eight feet tall, 600 pounds and smells like a garbage pit. “This thing can pound us into the ground like a couple of action heroes made out of Play-Doh,” says the town’s game warden.
Interestingly, the only memorable detail we get is when the town’s warden and sheriff trap the beast in an alley with their vehicle. Through a rain-soaked windshield the pair of public servants get a split second peep at the Bigfoot’s generous endowments. “It huge!” says the sheriff gawking at the figure before him. “I’ll say,” adds the game warden, averting his eyes from the long phallic appendage hanging between the creature’s legs.
And there you have it, dear readers. The beast from Beast Mountain is big, fat, smelly and well-hung. He’s not exactly a unique or memorable creation. For goodness sakes, the author could almost be describing me!
[Down From Beast Mountain / By Gerry Griffiths / First Printing: December 2017 / ISBN: 9781925711462]