Review: Charles Fort by Jim Steinmeyer

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By the early 1920s, Americans were discovering that the world was a strange place.

Charles Fort could demonstrate that it was even stranger than anyone suspected. Frogs fell from the sky. Blood rained from the heavens. Mysterious airships visited the Earth. Dogs talked. People disappeared. Fort asked why, but, even more vexing, he also asked why we weren’t paying attention.

Here is the first fully rendered literary biography of the man who, more than any other figure, would define our idea of the anomalous and paranormal. In Charles Fort: The Man Who Invented the Supernatural, the acclaimed historian of stage magic Jim Steinmeyer goes deeply into the life of Charles Fort as he saw himself: first and foremost, a writer.

Charles Fort is a person whose name I’ve heard about plenty peripherally but knew very little about as a person. His name is associated with bizarre phenomenon because of his truly unique books. The term “Fortean” is still used. The man himself was something of a riddle. Skeptical of science and religion, a world traveler who eventually hated leaving his home, a man who seemed to be in on the joke, yet was deadly earnest in his criticism of blind belief in science. This biography of him gives an honest picture of a man who considered himself a writer first and someone who challenged the establishment second. He was a man of obsession, particularly in his research, and he would have hated being considered the “father” of anything. But he was one of the first to loudly challenge science in the 20s from a non-religious skeptical stand point. He was fascinating.

4 out of 5

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