Book Birthdays celebrate one year of a books life in tweets, reviews, and more. This month we’re saying Happy First Book Birthday to Midwestern Strange (Nebraska, 2019) by B. J. Hollars
About the Book:
Midwestern Strange chronicles B.J. Hollars’s exploration of the mythic, lesser-known oddities of flyover country. The mysteries, ranging from bipedal wolf sightings to run-ins with pancake-flipping space aliens to a lumberjack-inspired “Hodag hoax,” make this book a little bit X-Files, a little bit Ghostbusters, and a whole lot of Sherlock Holmes. Hollars’s quest is not to confirm or debunk these mysteries but rather to seek out these unexplained phenomena to understand how they complicate our worldview and to discover what truths might be gleaned by reexamining the facts in our “post-truth” era.
Part memoir and part journalism, Midwestern Strange offers a fascinating, funny, and quirky account of flyover folklore that also contends with the ways such oddities retain cultural footholds. Hollars shows how grappling with such subjects might fortify us against the glut of misinformation now inundating our lives. By confronting monsters, Martians, and a cabinet of curiosities, we challenge ourselves to look beyond our presumptions and acknowledge that just because something is weird, doesn’t mean it is wrong.
“Midwestern Strange is highly recommended for its perspective (as we say in the Midwest, “it’s different”), but also for its satisfying prose. Hollars is a beautiful writer who entranced me with deftness of style from the formal to the unceremonious.”—Adrian Koesters, Split Rock Review
“Midwestern Strange is a mixture of folklore and travelogue, with a touch of memoir. Ultimately, it’s the story of a curious mind, hoping to be amazed.”—Indiana Magazine of History
“Each of Hollars’s conversations is interesting, and most look for realistic answers to fantastical claims. The locations themselves are worth reading about, as is the way that minor notoriety becomes a source of local pride.”—Foreword Reviews
- Midwestern Strange Book Trailer
- Excerpt featured in LitHub
- Highlighted in Publishers Weekly
- Interview with Foreword This Week
- Featured in a video by Inside Edition
On the Blog:
From the Desk of B.J. Hollars: Unravelling The Midwest’s Strangest Stories
The Marketeers Club: Best of 2019
our resident monster scholar, @BJHollars, has a new title MIDWESTERN STRANGE out now from @UnivNebPress https://t.co/UMwHfHaFRA https://t.co/7vA3gg9BXm— Bull City Press 🐂 (@BullCityPress) October 29, 2019
Greetings, Ashly! You should check out “Midwestern Strange: Hunting Monsters, Martians, and the Weird in Flyover Country” by @BJHollars. 🤔 Happy reading! 🤖📚— Indiana Authors Awards (@INAuthorsAwards) July 8, 2020
TONIGHT! 7pm CST! Join us on Facebook for a #BookaDay Live Chat with @BJHollars! He’ll be talking about his latest book MIDWESTERN STRANGE – our @ReadingGChoices pick for #BookaDay! https://t.co/nAyoVzBpwV https://t.co/yXT6NGpeHl pic.twitter.com/XWFcBwFGx0— ReadingGroupChoices (@ReadingGChoices) May 12, 2020
B.J. Hollars’ MIDWESTERN STRANGE is a “fun and fascinating romp” through strange tales delivered with a flair “for connecting dots while remaining comfortable with unanswered questions.” https://t.co/RWDQIhO0jD— The Millions (@The_Millions) October 18, 2019
be sure not to miss @BJHollars during his upcoming tour! MIDWESTERN STRANGE is out now! https://t.co/HmhiobjQYD pic.twitter.com/dyV3H5ws1U— Bull City Press 🐂 (@BullCityPress) September 6, 2019
A Wisconsin plumber visited by aliens flipping pancakes in their UFO; a lizard-ox hybrid called “The Hodag.” In “Midwestern Strange,” author B. J. Hollars explores the loopy legends found in small American towns, and the motives behind the mysteries. https://t.co/eL6Ruf2DVO— NPR (@NPR) August 28, 2019
New books to check out in Emory libraries: Making the Revolution; Queer Faith; Activism & Protest in China; The Gig Economy; Arts Therapies & Gender Issues; Fabulous Beast; Midwestern Strange; Nitsch: Spaces of Color pic.twitter.com/CVn0KppJHb— Emory Libraries (@EmoryLibraries) October 7, 2019
A Word from the Author:
A year removed from the publication of Midwestern Strange I can say, unequivocally, that the Midwest remains as strange as ever. In fact, that goes for the whole, wide world. If you’d asked me a year ago if the planet would come screeching to a halt as a result of a virus, I’d have given you a rather skeptical look. But in fact, that’s precisely what has happened.
As the world grows stranger for us all, it’s helped many of us clarify what we find most meaningful in our lives. For my own part, you’ll be glad to know that I remain as committed as ever to the search for extraterrestrial life, Bigfoot and his ilk, and other oddities. Though these days, people matter most. That was always the case, of course, but it’s nice to get that reminder.
Mysteries, of course, come in all shapes and sizes. Some baffle families, neighborhoods and towns; others leave the world’s entire population scratching their collective heads. But together, we always find a way to continue the search. These days, we’re mostly in search of empathy and vaccines and civic mindedness. But there will always be that part of us that cranes our necks to the sky in search of the unknowns well beyond the world we know.
Rest assured, the world is big enough for all our mysteries—big and small.
And in good times and bad, it reminds us, always, to live our lives with wonder.