Thursday, March 28, 2013

Book Review: Strange but True

So this one was pretty good. I remember enjoying it while I was reading it, but it's difficult to remember most of the stories in it. Most of the stories are very short-about a page or so. The longest is 4 pages, the shortest is about 3 paragraphs. So mixed in terms of detail. Essentially it's stories that people have written in to a kind of alternative kooky magazine called "Fate Magazine" that has been around since the 1940s.

The topics are just anything unusual, which ranges from ghosts to near death experiences to psychic phenomenon to aliens to UFOs to death omens to astral projection to past lives to doppelgängers to cryptozoology, and so on. Essentially, right in my wheelhouse. Oh, and all the stories are allegedly true. Some seem very true, and others are patently false, such as one an old lady told about seeing fairies in her back yard. She was probably high.

It started off rocky when I think I read about 4 stories in a row of Mexicans claiming the Virgin Mary saved them from a werewolf or something. But it got a lot better. Some really interesting stuff, and some unusual hauntings, and something unexpected-namely, some spiritual stories that the writers had no idea were spiritual.

For example, a grandpa was watching his 18-month old grandson while his daughter slept in her home across town after working a night shift job. The kid was doodling on a slate chalkboard and when the grandpa picked it up, the words "take me home right now" were written on it. He grabbed the kid and sped home in time to save his daughter from a gas leak. The old guy said "I'm so grateful for my grandson's psychic abilities." Um no, it was obviously divine intervention.

And in another story, a farmer and his wife are in his yard when a family pulls up in a wagon and asks for directions. They were very lost. The farmer chats with them for a while and explains exactly how to get where they wanted to go. They thank him and leave, and the farmer asks his wife why she didn't say a word since she's usually so talkative. She says "I would have if I spoke German, and furthermore I had no idea you could speak it!" He had apparently conducted the entire conversation in German, even though he didn't speak a word of it. Gift of tongues, but the farmer concluded it was a 'time shift' or something stupid.

There were other cool stories as well, like a girl that had a double of herself that would show up from time to time and just look at her, but once or twice actually saved her life. She would age at the same pace that the girl would age. And there are a lot of brief stories that don't leave much of an impression, which I fault the writers for more than the content. Many of them had interesting or scary content but were told so dryly that they read completely flat.

I also liked the alien stories. I'm 99% convinced people don't visit the earth from outer space and, if they do, that they don't have weird powers and stuff. But even these stories strained the limits of my credulity. Such as the people who claimed they were immortal beings from Venus and were born with 6 fingers. That's just stupid. Very few people ever have more than 5 fingers.

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