7.4

Jim Steinmeyer

Charles Fort: The Man Who Invented The Supernatural [Tarcher/Penguin]

Books Reviews Jim Steinmeyer
Share Tweet Submit Pin
Jim Steinmeyer

Bad news for bumbershoots

Rains of frogs and rains of fish and strange spacecraft and spontaneous combustion and poltergeists. Oh my.

Charles Fort, an eccentric writer who earned the admiration of Theodore Dreiser and the scorn of H.L. Mencken, catalogued such signs and wonders in a series of books published in the 1920s and 1930s. Fort introduced the world to events he termed "the damned," these being persistently reported phenomena that science could not explain. Author Steinmeyer asserts that the best known of the Fortean works, Lo!, "formed the template for discussing the paranormal" in future works on flying saucers, Atlantis, the Bermuda Triangle, and in sensational best-sellers such as Erich van Daniken's 1968 Chariots of the Gods?

Steinmeyer is an author, a magic historian and a famous designer of illusions, most notably David Copperfield's "Vanishing Statue of Liberty." Here, he's pulled a trick that's the opposite of vanishing. The Fort he reveals seems genius and crank in equal measure.