Monster Stalks NYC
When a local drunk is mugged near the toxic Gowanus Canal by “a hulking, hairy beast who smells really bad,” Hank Kalabander thinks nothing of blaming the assault on the legendary Bigfoot. His sardonic crime blotter for The Hornet, a local Brooklyn rag, often gleefully recounts the tragedies that befall the borough’s dimmer residents. But when an upstart reporter from The Eagle, a tabloid paper, lifts his piece and implicates Bigfoot in two more attacks, the crimes become local news fodder and the hunt for the “Gowanus Beast” takes off. Pretty soon the G.B. is to blame for everything from murder and robberies to playground scuffles and a pie’s disappearance—and neighborhood watch patrols have taken to the streets. Alarmed by the populace’s response, Hank decides it’s his responsibility to disprove the existence of this menacing beast and, with the help of an old carny colleague, put an end to the growing hysteria.
In The Blow-off, acclaimed writer Jim Knipfel has crafted an astoundingly funny send-up of our current times—an intoxicating blend of sharp cultural references, wildly comical scenes, discerning commentary, and unforgettable characters.
The curmudgeonly narrator of Knipfel's pulpy horror-comedy would hate knowing he's such amusing company. Hank Kalabander may have had a dark past, but he's settled into a comfortably disgruntled life in Brooklyn as the crime blotter writer at the Brooklyn Hornet. After publishing the questionable account of an inebriated local who claimed to be accosted by a hairy beast by the Gowanus Canal, Hank thinks nothing more of the bit until a brazen freelancer lifts Hank's scoop and turns the blotter item into a tabloid phenomenon. The tale of the Gowanus Beast catches fire, fanned by TV reports and more sightings, prompting Hank to try to prove there is, in fact, no creature terrorizing the city, even as his old friend, a carnival barker, arrives with plans to tame the beast and incorporate it into his show. As Hank's fears for the city gentrification, overcrowding, elimination of his beloved grit rage unchecked, the beast-mania cranks into hysteria, fueled by the very press Hank now tries to distance himself from. Knipfel (These Children Who Come at You with Knives) balances the ugly, the frightening, and the unseemly to give readers a morbidly playful story with a surprising amount of heart.