Saturday, March 21, 2009


So a friend of mine and I took off for Jackson, as we needed to get out of the small town we live in for awhile. We made the rounds of our favorite shopping spots and visited Jason's Deli for a muffuletta, which for the uninitiated is a splendid Italian creation of ham, hard salami, provolone and olive salad dressing that has to be God's original design for the ham and cheese sandwich. (Some of it went home with us. For later.)

On our way out of Jackson we stopped in Ridgeland to visit the newly relocated Barnes & Noble, which has gone from its former nondescript shopping center location on County Line Road to being the crux of a huge, bold, and above all expensive neo-Renaissance Stepfordian complex, which all Sweet Potato Queens are sure to go gaga over, and probably have. But no amount of exquisitely constructed fake architecture can subvert the monster quest for long, and it was in B&N that we discovered A Field Guide To Monsters, written by Dave Elliott, C. J. Henderson and Rick Leider.

Purporting to be an expansion of a pamphlet originally written by Abraham Van Helsing, the Field Guide To Monsters is written and created in the style of a modern field guide, with useful proportional scales and classic photographs of each subject, an intelligence gauge (represented by brains) and full disclosure on all traits, abilities, weaknesses and so forth. Not content to just mention traditional or classic movie monsters (though all the favorites are here in various incarnations), the Guide includes a full complement of modern ones as well, including the Serial Five (Jason, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Leatherface and Hannibal Lecter), the Serial Wanna-Bes (Candyman, Pinhead, and Horace "Shocker" Pinker), Buffy's Vampires (Angel, Spike and The Master, who is unfortunately misrepresented by a photo of the Gentlemen from the episode "Hush"), separate entries for "Zombies" and "The Living Dead" (as it should be), the often-excluded entry for Dragons, and for some reason, Shrek. However, no Sweet Potato Queens are mentioned.

There is a lot of snarky humor in the Guide, which most of this book's reviewers on Amazon had a problem with, but I say that if you are in the midst of a pack of roving werewolves who are trying to tear you apart, it does you good to laugh. Also, the book is sturdily assembled, so if worse comes to worse you can smack them with it, which is a technique that also works well with Sweet Potato Queens.

A Field Guide To Monsters is available here at Barnes And Noble in its 2008 edition for the nice price of $7.98. The 2004 edition can be found at Amazon here. Buy a copy now, for the life you save may well be your own.

DISCLAIMER: No Sweet Potato Queens were harmed in the writing of this post.