Monsters in America – Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting by W. Scott Poole (Baylor) Like monster movies, comics, and stories, reading this book that retells the history of the United States through its relationships with monsters is a lot of fun…and may or may not mean something more. The fun is in Poole’s pool of knowledge, and the excitement he has in sharing it, connecting research into witch trials, sea monster sightings, and Indian-curse animal women with slasher flick, EC comics, and horror host ephemera, analysis, and jazzy juxtapositions. Not only does this draw on the monster magazine tradition of gushing with unexpurgated creature love but also the equally enjoyable (for a certain caste) academic journal fun and games of using theory, jargon, and training to do awesome intellectual gymnastics, made more impressive here by Poole forgoing the monster = meaning softballs of vampire sexual taboo razzmatazz and other standard metaphors, and going for uglier, more intense discussions of how our interest in monsters relates to lynchings, serial killing, religious expression, war, and “cryptid hunting” (folks who took that Leonard Nimoy In Search of… shit too seriously), and everything else from Plymouth Rock to Barack. The best thing about the book is the subtext that monsters are real. Mwa ha ha ha! Yayyyy…academic presses!