High Strangeness: UFO Surprise!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

UFO Surprise!

Over the weekend my older daughter and I drove my youngest to school Connecticut, and as she was giving us  tour of the campus library, I had the brilliant idea to check to see if they have The Close Encounters Man in the stacks. I commandeered a computer terminal and found a listing for the book, but under the name Jerome Clark...

Who "really" knew J. Allen Hynek?
Jerome Clark? He's the dude who wrote the monumental two-volume UFO Encyclopedia, a must-have book for anyone interested in the history of UFOs. What was his name doing on my book??

Well, I couldn't navigate my way through the library's system, but my daughters and I decided it must be a review of my book, written by Mr. Clark.

Cool! One of the major figures in UFO literature is reviewing my book, in The Fortean Times no less!

Today I searched for the review and found it here.

It's a pretty nice review, I have to admit. Of course, Mr. Clark was "there when it happened," so my prose doesn't always live up to his memory, but we can get past that.

The thing that struck me as weird about the review is a passage in which Mr. Clark states that "O'Connell could have said more if he'd interviewed more of us who knew (Hynek)." This puzzled me, because I had, in fact, interviewed Jerry Clark in January, 2016. Here's what he wrote to me then:

"Mostly, my interactions with Allen were personal and preserved in memory. I'd be happy to share those with you via email if you have specific questions. He and I had a fair number of discussions about the nature of UFOs and related issues, and of course, from my own background in ufology, I think I have a relatively informed assessment of Allen's position and significance is all of this."

I emailed him some questions, as per his request, and he wrote back with very succinct answers. I only used one quote from the interview, but that's the nature of writing a biography: you collect far more material than you can ever use. So why is he claiming that I didn't interview him? Or is he thinking of someone else I should have interviewed?

This is what I wrote to Jerry today:

HI Jerry,
I appreciate your kind book review in the Fortean Times, but I am puzzled by this comment:
"O'Connell could have said more if he'd interviewed more of us who knew him."
I wish I knew to whom you're referring. As these emails show, I did interview you, via email, at your request. You may be surprised to learn that several people who knew Dr. Hynek did not wish to be interviewed, but are now praising the book now that they're read it. You may also be surprised to learn (or not) that at least one person who knew Hynek was actively warning other people who knew Hynek NOT to do an interview with me. In time, I grew tired of the silliness and decided to be more selective in who I would interview.
I was and am grateful for you agreeing to share your thoughts in an interview. Thank you again for the positive review.
Best regards,
I will let you know what happens...


purrlgurrl said...

Just a thought - perhaps those who declined an interview or the person who warned people away from interviews harbored the thought of someday writing a book on Hynek.

Sooner or later just about everybody interested in Ufology eventually entertains the notion of writing a book. That's why the UFO literature is so inconsistent, poorly researched, and crappy, people who can't write and do basic research have produced a lot of UFO books.

Mark OC said...

That is an excellent point! When are you writing your book? ;)

purrlgurrl said...

Moi? Never. I'm way too busy knitting hats I never wear so I give them to local charities.