The Hunt – James Howard Kunstler
Tor Books – 1988
Billy, a pathetic frigid, invites cool dude R.J. on a camping trip to find bigfoot. The back cover of the book suggests that he is really inviting R.J. so that he can kill him, but this isn’t actually what the book is about. The thought of harming his friend does pass through his head when they’re on the camping trip, but only as a passing fancy.
The two lads eventually run into a gang of Bigfoot (bigfeet?), and they manage to kill one of the beasts. Unfortunately, on their way home, R.J. gets hit by a car and their bigfoot corpse gets lost in the woods.
There are a few other little bits and pieces going on in this story, but that’s the basic plot. Let me tell you why it’s stupid.
There’s too much character development for this kind of book. Billy is a little incel nerd, and he’s clearly extremely jealous of R.J. There’s a lot of backstory here, and it’s probably the most entertaining part of the book. But this is supposed to be a violent horror novel about bloodthirsty bigfeet, not a soap opera. Sure, we know why Billy is jealous of his friend, but we have no idea why he decides to try to catch a bigfoot. The revenge/jealousy part of the book has nothing to do with the Bigfoot part.
The ending is a cop-out. Yes, Billy still has the photos of the bigfoot, but by the end, I didn’t give a shit about that part of the book. I wanted to know if he was going to kill R.J. or not. That’s the story this book is set up to tell. R.J. getting hit by a car is a painful deus ex machina.
There are a few bits with bloodthirsty bigfeet, but they take up maybe 2 of the 200 or so pages of this utterly shit book. The book is called The Hunt, but “The Awkward Camping Trip” would be a far more appropriate title. (As a matter of fact, the original title of this book was “Bagging Bigfoot”. I once read a book called “Boffing Bigfoot“.)
This book tries to do several things, but it fails at all of them. Avoid this rubbish.