In a way, Sightings is a reinvigoration, an evangelization of the coming-of-age-story. The titular story of Bigfoot joining a high school basketball team and attending prom is at its simplest a story of the new kid’s struggle to fit in. "Westward Expansion" and "Dixie Land" both find sons who grew up idolizing their fathers suddenly face-to-face with old, delusional men, hopelessly wrapped in history. Conversely, "Line of Scrimmage" features a son facing the distinct lack of a father, who tries to replace him with the uproariously hilarious Coach Housen.
Hollars has a way with a casual joke, a funny scene, as well as a well-timed punch to the gut. His scatterbrained Roger in "Schooners" is a wealth of quotables. There’s even slapstick in "The Clowns". Yet, in "Indian Villiage" and "Loose Lips Sink Ships," Hollars tempers the humor, allowing us to see the destructive reality of sex when it collides with teenage fantasy.
For how strong Sightings is, it closes weakly. "The Clowns" becomes predictable quick, and excuses itself quickly, seemingly aware of it’s own staleness. "Robotics" begins to chart new ground for the collection, exploring a strong motherly presence, but we don’t get to inhabit the story nearly long enough. Finally, "Missing Mary" is buried at the very back. It doesn’t have that single, developed single protagonist, that edge of fantasy, nor does it feel like a coming-of-age-tale in the way the other nine do. I know ten is a nice, round number, but I can’t help thinking that Sightings would have been best with only nine stories.
Still, I can’t help but heartily recommend Sightings. If you like humor, punchy, efficient prose, and a little magic in your realism, Hollars is addressing these stories to you.
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