In 2002, I stumbled across a reality show on ESPN and one of it's cast members - a chubby redhead with a great personality who hated sports. He was my favorite player on the show. His name was Josh Gates.
Fast forward about 5 years later and I am once again reunited, viewer wise, with my favorite TV show personality. In 2008, I became the fan site runner for him and his Syfy (then SciFi) series "Destination Truth".
It's now 2011 - I've met and spoken with Josh a good number of times about "DT" and his life in general. I now have a book in my hands, wrestled out of a tightly sealed Priority Mail package sent to me from a little town called Hollywood California, entitled "Memoirs of a Monster Hunter".
Let me say that after college and balancing out fan site work with freelance assignments and a full time job, casual reading hasn't been one of my hobbies for a few years now. This book, however, has re-sparked my love of reading and I'm sure to follow up "Memoirs" with a new literary wish list.
To start off with the initial overview and sugar coating of this autobiography - I loved it! It was a great compilation of behind the scenes looks into Josh's life before and during "DT", while also making a great bedfellow to big fans of the show, or those who'd like to be.
The chapters that really stayed glued in my mind long after reading them were "19,340", "Chernobyl", "Tourists & Pharaohs" and "What the Monsters Taught Me". I felt these chapters were all great mixtures of Josh's life as an honest-to-God explorer meshed with behind the scenes banter.
It goes without saying that the whole book was memorable; my honorable mention chapters for favorite reads are "We Found Something!", "The Death Worm", and "The Delicate Art of Not Getting Killed", while a sure fire fan favorite from multiple weeks of feedback is "Worst. Vacation. Ever".
Though I wouldn't call them complaints, observations on the book as the fan ambassador of the show (dubbed so by the cast) need to be addressed. In a few points in the book, I recall reading some paragraphs originally from the "DT" travel journal that used to be up on the show's site when it was still SciFi, but it's nice to revisit the text again. Also, myself and other more involved fans were able to fly through some sections faster than others because a lot of the back stories were heard first on DT Fan Radio, which I've hosted since 2009, but it was great to see it in text form with little added nuances.
Speaking on the fellow fans, they've have brought up that they wish the other cast members had gotten more mentions within the piece, but then again, it IS a book about Josh's life, so brief mentions are to be expected. A good number of enthusiasts wished there was more cussing, too, but on my end, I feel it was just the right amount of sass.
Bottom Line: it is an extremely well written book and a terrific read. You do not need to have seen the show before to benefit from this book, but it may very well usher in many budding "DT" fans once January 2012 and the new season on Syfy rolls around. It's perfect if your interests lie in the show, in Josh Gates, in travel, the paranormal, or in cryptids - almost each chapter has a small, informal section in between about infamous monsters that prove amusing side bars.
In a body of work where the story broaches on multiple categories of subject matter, it somehow finds it's voice and leaves the reader with any number of lessons to take away from it. Towards the end, you almost forget this book is about the man who wrote it and it becomes more of an interactive adventure guide to travel sided with a cocktail of anthropology, entomology, philosophy, and spirituality.
And the best part? It was entirely written as a labor of love by author himself. He refused a ghost writer, suffered through it and didn't let this die hard fan forget about it throughout the months I nagged him to share ANYTHING about this book.
You did not disappoint :) Well done, Gates.
Below (or HERE) is a video with audio of Josh reading from part of the book before it was (officially) released on DT Fan Radio and HERE are just a scattering of quotes from the book, if you wanted a "sampling" in case you were considering purchasing.
"Memoirs of a Monster Hunter" is available on Amazon, Kindle, Nook, iBooks, in most book stores (officially in Barnes & Noble), and the NBC/Universal online store. "Destination Truth" returns to Syfy in January 2012.
Written by Amanda Rosenblatt, "DT" Fan Ambassador, freelance journalist and film maker.
Audio interviews and non-YouTube Videos from Josh's
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