B.J. Hollars’s exploration of the mythic, lesser-known oddities of flyover country. Hollars’s quest is not to confirm or debunk these mysteries but rather to seek out these unexplained phenomena to understand how they complicate our worldview and to discover what truths might be gleaned by reexamining the facts in our "post-truth” era.
... the case files in Hollars' colorful compendium are every bit as folksy, every bit as strange ... while Hollars makes sure to frolic in the fiction, to swim deep into the strange, he pays particular (if never quite enough) attention to the other half of the equation: The all-too-human feedback, the terrestrial roots of these enduring myths, the motives behind the mysteries ... a breezy read, often very funny, and occasionally — at its best — illuminating. Serious cryptozoologists, ufologists, and devotees of the strange may find Hollars' topical approach to the oddities themselves unfulfilling, but for those just entering the waters it's both a quirky primer on some of the Midwest's most bizarre stories and a fresh perspective on small-town culture. As a literary pursuit, it's the latter half of this equation that rings the loudest, however, and I often found myself wishing that Hollars had spent less time investigating the veracity of the mysteries themselves — a mostly futile effort — and more diagnosing what these stories mean to the communities and individuals that have so long nourished them ... treads the most novel and gripping terrain when it ditches the mystery and returns to the everyday, to Main Street — to us. Hollars has a tendency to soliloquize about the virtue of keeping an open mind, about the nature of scientific inquiry, about the professional perils of paranormal investigation, but too often, these moments fall short of revelatory. It's when Hollars retrains his eye on his small-town Midwestern milieu that Midwestern Strange shoots fire from its nostrils and truly comes alive.
... entertaining and informative ... Each of Hollars’s conversations is interesting, and most look for realistic answers to fantastical claims. The locations themselves are worth reading about, as is the way that minor notoriety becomes a source of local pride ... More about presenting tales than about providing answers, Midwestern Strange is an entertaining trip through local mysteries with a focus on those who experienced them.