Bigfoot needs a hug 

It worked for the Wicked Witch of the West, and for Beowulf's nemesis, Grendel. Now, the legendary Sasquatch becomes the latest misunderstood monster to tell his side of the story. Graham Roumieu's In Me Own Words: The Autobiography of Bigfoot (Manic D Press) casts the legendary North American ape-man as a disgruntled everyman who's sick of folks stalking him.

Unlike Gregory Maguire's Wicked, In Me Own Words takes a less literary approach to its central fiend's back story. The book can't quite be called a graphic novel because there's no real plot. It does give a sketchy -- and rewarding -- character study by way of wonderfully rough drawings, paired with chicken-scratchy "first-person" narrative.

Roumieu's scatter-shot art style, which has appeared in The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, fits the pseudo-savage subject matter perfectly, but the real joy of In Me Own Words is its biting wit. Bigfoot, we learn, has feelings too. He writes bad poetry. He has an ungrateful cat. He's friendly with Koko, the signing gorilla. Admittedly, he also devours humans and ruined his political career with an unfortunate infant-eating incident, but this Bigfoot remains a likable oaf who doesn't understand all the bad press.

Like frustrating video footage of a shadowy Sasquatch sighting, In Me Own Words offers only a small glimpse of the creature. Just when Roumieu gets the reader hooked on the laugh-out-loud conceit, the 44-page picture book abruptly ends. It's a shame, because the author almost makes a fascinating parallel between Bigfoot and the banal disillusionment felt by American males on the verge of midlife. It turns out that Sasquatch is in search of self.

We can only hope Roumieu doesn't do a Bigfoot act himself and vanish into the wilderness, because this book cries out for a follow-up. Perhaps Nessie: A Life Submerged, or a peek at the lost diaries of the Chupacabra?

Shelf Space is a weekly column on books and Atlanta's literary scene.



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