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Larry Lockridge
The Cardiff Giant
The Cardiff Giant, set in Cooperstown, New York, has up its novelistic sleeve Puck's profound declaration, "Lord, what fools these mortals be!" Jack Thrasher, investigative reporter, arrives on the scene to look into the weird disappearance from the Farmers' Museum of a huge human figure. He had been unearthed in the late nineteenth century near Cardiff, New York. Jack confronts locals and outsiders who all have a theory, including that the giant has been reanimated and is lurching throughout the community. They are enmeshed in self-punishing belief systems such as alien abduction, astrology, kabbalistic numerology, New Age rebirthing, and religious dogmas reduced to literal absurdities. The fast-paced action centers around episodes where they pay a sorry price for their beliefs. But skeptics don't fare much better, susceptible as they are to mental disorders that show the faculty of reason is fragile indeed. These characters group and regroup, with romance always on their minds, and finally come to recognitions at once surprising and moving.
Lockridge’s charming farce features eclectic characters searching for purpose in Cooperstown, N.Y. In addition to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the town plays host to strange legends and artifacts of hoaxes, such as the Cardiff Giant, a 10-foot-tall clay figure passed off as a giant by a 19th-century huckster. After the giant goes missing from the Farmers’ Museum, aimless reporter Jack Thrasher travels from the Midwest to cover the story. When the Giant is allegedly spotted terrorizing townsfolk, Jack tangles with the residents: bigot Sheriff Tarbox, who spouts conspiracy theories about aliens; talkative and nosy museum owner Thor Ohnstad; psychoanalyst Esther Federman, who links the Kabbalah to the Giant; Esther’s New Age half-sister, Sheila, who is one-quarter Huron; and famed slugger Tony Homero, who sees the face of Mel Gibson in his ravioli. On cue, the media descend on the town to cover the ensuing circus. Jack ponders, “Does the human brain have a special compartment for the absurd?” Though the slapstick and banter can be wearing, Lockridge peppers the Keystone Cops–like antics of the townsfolk with juicy historical accounts of baseball, Native American history, Jewish texts, and famous hoaxes and fakes. As the characters derive meaning from their beliefs in the paranormal, Lockridge redeems this otherwise silly tale. (Self-published)