By 1917, when the Cottingley Fairies story broke, and got Conan Doyle all excited, it was clear that the Fae had already been trivialized in the modern imagination. Out of all the objections to the charming pictures of butterfly-like flower fairies, there were none of the form: “That’s not like the Fae Queen that kidnapped my great-uncle Ned,” or “I don’t believe Thomas the Rhymer met anything like that.”
I’ve quite given up yelling and breaking things over such fluffy nonsense, but had I the wit and talent of Clint Marsh, I could have had great fun writing a book that highlights this discrepancy by retelling the advice and recounting the adventures of one Reginald Bakeley, English esquire and fairy-hunter extraordinaire. Especially since I could keep up the tone of the rural English sporting press throughout, and only toward the end lapse into such a tour de force of disingenuous self-parody as to leave my reader quite gasping for breath and wishing there were a servant, just briefly, so one could just “ring for tea” and not have to put the book down.
For, you see, I should have absolutely filled my book to the rim with extracts from real faery-lore, in the process of explaining how to eliminate them or at least defend against them. Oh, and I might have one chapter where it sounds like I am going soft on the sweet little flower-fairies of the Cottingley kind, only to finish up with a recipe worthy of al-Majitri or the Greek Magical Papyri for an alligation of flower-fae.
I would also have tried not to wink at my reader too broadly, except perhaps here and there as I suggested such things as hiring the local lodge of Freemasons, or failing that, good respectable British Druids, to help with moving a ley line.
Oh, I could have done all that, perhaps; yet I don’t think I’d have quite risen to the roof of risibility it took to package the book with a rubber chicken on a keyring.
But, no, I didn’t do it, and perhaps could not have; but that is moot, since Clint Marsh and his döppelganger Reginald Bakeley have decisively, thunderously, and hilariously beaten me to it.
It’s $14.95, about the price of two fingers of the McCalla in a private-club bar, should there be a reason to compare it with the way I celebrated my 40th birthday. And it is much cheaper than recreating the way I celebrated my 59th, since most of you poor clucks (at least the men) would have to have paid for what I got for free.
Buy the book; whiskey and sex will just get you into trouble.
Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop
And Other Practical Advice in Our Campaign Against the Fairy Kingdom
Reginald Bakeley, Foreword by Clint Marsh
5 x 7
40 B&W illustrations
October 1, 2012
[Complimentary review copy from Red Wheel/Weiser gratefully acknowledged, opinions my own, your mileage may vary, etc.]