Evan's Reviews > Skyjack: The Hunt for D. B. Cooper

Skyjack by Geoffrey Gray
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's review
Nov 01, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: crime-for-real, _lfpl-library, paranormal-unexplained, 2011-reads
Read from September 15 to 19, 2011

OK, it's time somebody stepped up, came out and just plain said, "Enough already."

Non-fiction authors, please, please, please, STOP trying to write historical narratives like Erik Larson. Please stop the slice-and-dice multiple-narrative juggling gimmick in which stories are divvied out in tiny spoonfuls, shifting back and forth over long spans of time and interrupted in mid-action in embarrassing Dan Brown Da Vinci Code cliffhanger style, and then resumed several chapters and dozens of pages later after five other narratives have been dribbled out and interrupted, and by which time I've forgotten who the hell these people are and what they are doing in the resumed narrative(s). Does every non-fiction book have to play like Pulp Fiction nowadays? If someone kept opening the door to my bedroom like this every time I was having sex it wouldn't take me very long to get royally pissed. Simply put, you are interrupting my enjoyment, authors and authoresses. And I'm a terrible multitasker; I love seeing a thought played out fully to its conclusion. I happen to believe that a good story--which this is--does not need this kind of treatment, nor does it have to be this glib and snarky (another regrettable contemporary tendency). In addition, there's a bit of the Gonzo at work here, with Gray injecting himself into the story (fairly well, I think), but this is not great Gonzo (for that, see "Among the Thugs" by Bill Buford, which I recently reviewed). But, God, I wish for the days when historical narratives (yes, with multiple centers of interest) could be told in a more linear and serious fashion without the gimmickry. John Toland, alas, is dead.

I honestly didn't want to know this much minute detail about the lives and mundane adventures of crackpot suspects like Duane Weber or Kenny Chistensen or Barb Dayton (in fact I wish the Duane and Jo Weber narrative, which figits and frets about in an annoying and maddening conspiratorial frenzy but which goes absolutely nowhere and is confusingly told, had been omitted entirely). The screwball antics of the scientists and Cooper cultists I also found plodding and padded; I just wanted to know the results of what they found out and not have to read about their fumblings for page after page. I'm sorry, but however much they amuse author Gray they bored me. I enjoyed the book most when it stuck to the known facts of the case, and particularly those relating to the primary suspect, Richard Floyd McCoy, and also to the speculations about Cooper's likely landing sites and the fate of his stolen money. I understand the point of the author's inclusion of so many suspects is to show how infused the legend of Cooper has become in the pop zeitgeist ; that so many people continue to obsess over the case and that various loonies have come to believe that they themselves *are* Cooper or that their friends and relatives believe them to be so--even after the FBI has ruled them all out. It is an interesting phenomenon. It's so interesting that it might have been enlightening to have some psychological explanation included by experts. But it's not here.

With a reshuffle and heavy editing, this could be a great rundown of the D.B Cooper case, since all the facts are here and they are fascinating. (Rather than summarize the case, I'll refer you to Wikipedia). I think, though, the author--faced with not much to work with--decided to turn his book into a kind of kaleidoscopic comic extravaganza commentary on Americana, which is not a book I cared to read. Actually, the book is a good--and yes, recommendable--overview of the D.B. Cooper case (though I suspect artistic license at play in various details), and will reward any reader who doesn't mind having his or her head batted around like a ping pong ball.
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Reading Progress

09/15 page 16
03/10 marked as: read
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Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-5 of 5) </span> <span class="smallText">(5 new)</span>

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message 1: by Velvetink (new)

Velvetink Love your review of this!

Evan Re-post of a recent read.

Elledee Perfect review. I felt exactly the same. Great story, terribly told, and way too much of the loonies.

Miranda thank you! i'm 56 pages in and it's so annoying

Teena I agree. I have no idea what I just read.

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