I regret pulling a no-show yesterday, but that's what happens when arthritis blindsides you. Just be grateful that I didn't turn you in to the authorities.
SKELETON MAN (Joseph Bruchac)
Sometimes, you're a 29-year-old man at a consignment shop. Sometimes, you spot a stack of random "intermediate" genre books across from VHS copies of The Fugitive and Jerry Maguire. Sometimes, you buy those books. Sometimes, the tip of your penis is chafed, galled and as ferruginous as a ruby geranium after a frenzied session of scalpel-assisted masturbation. Or maybe it's just me! Golly, I can't think of a better way to segue into the synopsis of Skeleton Man. Molly's parents don't come home one night, and waiting anxiously for their arrival fails to produce them. Days drift by before they are officially considered missing. Did they disappear? Are they cavorting in Las Vegas? Is this a cruel joke?
Authorities (there is that word again) decide that Molly, a Native American sixth grader, will stay with her great uncle until...well, until. But this is a shifty figure. She has never seen this dude, and although his identity can be verified, she doesn't believe an asseveration that escapes his lips. Moreover, he looks too much like Skeleton Man, a malevolent Mohawk Indian legend who eats families. Skeleton Man (the novel, hence the bold typeface) is torpid for a long while, but once the bloody stool hits the oscillating fan, things get scary. I never use that word. However, if I had read this book as a youngster, it would have made my gizzards shudder with fright. Skeleton Man is a creepy windbag.
Sally Wern Comport's illustrations accentuate the skin-crawling atmosphere. Joseph Bruchac's prose is serviceable, but it's his character development that elevates the story. Frankly, the way he renders Molly, Molly's parents and Molly's teachers is refreshing. These people are believable. You could argue that our prepubescent heroine comes off as impossibly brave, but at least she doesn't annoy the reader. In this case, I was the reader, and I fancied Skeleton Man. The only drawback is that it does take approximately 90 pages to spread its horror wings. I'm not the most patient motherfucker in the world, you understand.
Bruchac cooked up a sequel and dubbed it The Return of Skeleton Man. Reviews are primarily negative. I don't know if I'll hit that shit, but I dig this guy's style. All of his material is imbued with Native American vestiges. Insert an offensive Washington Redskins gibe here. Seriously, change the goddamn name. How is this even a debate?