Cryptozoology, BioForteana, Zoological Oddities, Unusual Natural History

BioFortean Review Book Review

El Chupacabras: Fact or Fiction?
Kody Boye
Illustrated by: Ewan Bennett
Lulu, 2007 
ISBN: None; 49 pp.
$16.88 paperback / $5.00 download

Reviewed by Craig Heinselman, editor CRYPTO

Self-published books are a specialized entity in the world of publishing. The author is required not only to write, but to edit, layout, and publicize their works. This makes the quality of the printed work the total of all these parts, and any one failing can bring the others down behind it.

I like self-published works, especially in the area of cryptozoology. They allow the reader to see a different perspective, and often focus on regional geographic locations or lesser-known mystery animals. The quality varies, not only in printed word, but in overall presentation and content, from desktop printing to POD (print on demand) processes. However, the authors must watch not only what is printed and how it appears, but also the front end costs of such works.

El Chupacabras is the modern representation of an unknown animal in cryptozoology, one that is debated as to extent of inclusion and yet incorporates the investigative nature of what cryptozoology has at its core—reliance on regional events, localized peoples accounts, folkloric interaction, physical evidence, and varied hypothesis. What makes the saga of Chupacabras even more interesting is that it is a modern incarnation that demonstrates a cultural evolution from the mid-1990s on. Spreading from Puerto Rico throughout South America and into North America (and elsewhere), the phenomenon of Chupacabras became popularized in regional merchandise, adapted songs, Internet sites, and a few books on the subject since.

These basic ideas are presented not as a guide, rather an introduction into how Kody Boye’s El Chupacabras: Fact or Fiction? falls short  as a self-published book. Boye presents to the reader many popular theories—from alien association (UFOs) to an escaped scientific experiment, even touching on the potential for several animals being responsible for the varied appearance, description, and behavior. Boye also touches on some of the earlier history of the Chupacabras, stretching back to the 1950s, appearance and behavior as well as cultural impact. The key word though is simply touching. Boye does not linger or delve into details or explanations, rather a virtual repertoire of what others have said before.

Language utilized in writing is as important to the presentation of information as the information itself. We judge works based on fluidity of context, language, and explanatory methodologies. How this is presented in Boye’s work exposes the largest flaw. Boye floats in tone and context, from passive to aggressive in statements without standing behind any or offering supportive data for them. Boye’s main culprit for Chupacabras, for example, is mange on dogs. However, when exploring this idea, there is no supportive basis provided:

  • “Dogs with mange are probably what people are seeing when they say that the Chupacabra is a canid creature, and it is plausible, in this way. Mange is a disease in which canids (dogs, wolves, foxes) have different patterns of hair, and more skin is exposed. Dogs with mange is probably what people are seeing when they say that it is the Chupacabra. Then again, how come there’s so many dogs with mange then?”

Why therefore is mange a probable explanation? There is no data to support the statement, which makes it simply a piece of information tossed out for reading, but not analysis. An additional flaw with the book is basic language assignment. Take these two segments, for example:

  • “There’s not very much evidence to back up the claims that the Chupacabra is the real creature.”
  • “Yet other people believe that the Chupacabra has to be real, that a creature that does not exist could do such damage.”

These are grammatically poor in presentation and outline; when read as a whole the book breaks down as poorly edited. Take the grammar together with the book layout, and the view of the book shifts from being a thoughtful presentation of basic ideas to a quickly thrown-together creation. Word spacing floats from double spaced to single spaced. Chapter headings appear on one page, and then continue on to another. The overall effect resonates negatively with the reader, making one wonder what the actual intent of the book was.

 Unfortunately, there are better books out there on Chupacabras, and they flesh out the ideas and theories, as well as making the journey interesting and entertaining for the reader. Pick up a copy of Scott Corrales’ The Chupacabras Diaries or Chupacabras and Other Mysteries, or even Jonathan Downes’ Only Fools and Goatsuckers. These will surely be better fodder for thought, and be equal or less in overall financial cost.

It would benefit Boye to use a secondary reviewer for his nonfiction works. They can assist with editing and layout, as well as information presentation. Boye has done his homework, even when relying on the infamous Wikipedia, and fails simply through lack of follow through.

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