We of the Alternative Fortean Times are pleased to announce that we will be carrying the Arcturus Book List from this issue on, with monthly updates. Bob Girard is an American institution. He is possibly the best book dealer in America for the kind of material of interest to all Combat Diary Viewers. Ask Bob, he will get it for you!
1443 SE Port Saint Lucie Blvd
Port St. Lucie, Florida
Before customers refer to the catalogue, they might like to read John Chambers (New Paradigm Books) description of his visit to Arcturus Books:
THE PROUST OF UFOs
Ever since he became the proprietor of Arcturus Books--arguably the biggest and best UFO bookstore in the world--Robert C. Girard, of Port St. Lucie, Florida, has been putting together a monthly catalogue and sending it out to his hundreds of mail-order clients worldwide.
The Arcturus Books Inc. Catalogue, as it is soberly called, lists all of the new UFO books which have appeared that month, often dozens of them; it also offers succinct reviews, by Girard, of these books, and similar reviews from previous catalogues.
UFO book aficionados coming to this catalogue for the first time will be in for a pleasant surprise: Girard's reviews are arguably the best critical writing on the literature of UFOs--intertwined with the most probing reflections on the nature of the UFO phenomenon in general--to be found anywhere today. An unrepentant bibliophile, Girard had been collecting and absorbing UFO-related works for a good number of years before he decided to open up a bookstore. Focusing his knowledge tightly on every book he reviews, he is a critic in the Classical mode of a Jonathan Swift: scathingly scornful when the book merits it (and how many UFO books do!), loftily eloquent when he feels the book is sufficiently elevated above the hoi polloi of UFO writings (The Secret School by Whitley Strieber is a book he has singled out for especially impassioned prose). Praise or blame, Girard sums up the essence of every book in two to five sentences, regardless of its complexity. Indeed, if you were to put all of his thumbnail book reviews--which number in the many thousands by now--into a single volume, you would end up with a consummate History of UFO Literature. Even more: After you've read through enough of these literate and passionate booklets modestly hiding behind the title Arcturus Books Inc. Catalogue, you come away with the distinct impression that writing them is Bob Girard's great love; that, in fact, he is tirelessly writing a single work--not a novel, nor a work of non-fiction either, but a whole new brand of literature--a sort of Remembrance of UFO Books Past in the continuous pamphlet mode. He's no book vendor; he's the Marcel Proust of the UFO phenomenon!
I first learned about Bob Girard in the October 1996 issue of Fate magazine, in a column in which John Keel asked, "What is the most valuable UFO book?" He had added, "The UFO book field hardly exists at all. There are only a couple of amateurs who try to sell UFO books on the side and, happily, one knowledgeable professional bibliophile named Bob Girard, who serves as the sole judge of what's valuable and what's junk in the world of UFO books." Keel quoted Girard as saying the most valuable UFO book--i.e., "the one most in demand by a handful of serious collectors and the hard core of UFO buffs"--was something called "The Annotated Edition" of a book entitled The Case for the UFO, by M.K. Jessup. Keel said Girard had told him the book sometimes brought as much as $500.00.
I was fascinated. I am a book buff myself. What particularly caught my attention was that Robert C. Girard lived in Port St. Lucie, Florida--only 70 miles from where I lived. A month after reading Keel's column, I got in my car and drove up from Boca Raton to meet him.
Arcturus Books turned out to be Girard's residence, a sprawling house sitting on one of the main arteries passing through Port St. Lucie. It wasn't a UFO bookstore so much as a mini-warehouse of UFO books, in the middle of which Bob Girard and his Ecuadorian wife Monica were ceaselessly wrapping books to ship out to their clients. I happily prowled through a labyrinthine maze of floor-to-ceiling racks sagging with everything from the shiniest new UFO bestsellers to yellowing piles of 40-year-old signed first editions of George Adamski. As I did so, a reserved, even guarded Bob Girard cordially if tersely answered my questions about Ufology and its literature. I could see this was a man who didn't waste words on what he thought wasn't deserving of words--and he thought a good deal wasn't.
It turned out this was a part of the style of Bob's monthly Arcturus Books Inc. Catalogue, a bunch of which I took away with me when I left. At home, I idly began to read one; I ended up reading them all from cover to cover. This took several hours; as small and as thin as they were--with tiny print--the shortest Catalogue contained almost a hundred reviews; the longest--a six-month "backlist"--contained 500 reviews, some of them repeats, many of them not.
They were written with verve and erudition. I was hooked. I called up Bob Girard and asked him to send me a bunch more of back issues; he complied. Since then, I avidly await each one. And I came to decide that Bob Girard isn't really a bookseller. He isn't even a cataloguer. He's an Artist of the UFO Book Review--a Samuel Johnson who, instead of writing a one-man dictionary of the English language, is writing a one-man encyclopedia encapsulating and placing in its proper context every UFO book ever written; in fact, writing one, single, ongoing catalog, which I have decided to call Remembrance of UFO Books Past.
I'll wager this Neverending Catalogue is Bob Girard's Great American Novel. Marcel Proust lay in bed and worked at Remembrance of Things Past [A la Recherche du Temps Perdu] for 20 years. The book turned out to be far longer than anything Proust had expected, running to almost 2,000 pages. And, by the mysterious alchemy known only to real artists, the book (which Proust didn't quite finish before he died; its final sections were edited by his brother Robert) turned out to be exactly as long as it had to be, to bring together every theme in one final, glorious, conclusion.
Would it turn out, after he had penned the last Arcturus Books Inc. Catalogue, and gone to his final reward in a pan-dimensional heaven containing the archetype of every UFO book, that Bob Girard had written, not a seemingly endless series of monthly catalogues, but One Great Catalogue, in which every theme was brought together in one final, glorious, conclusion?
I devoutly believe so.
These days, the "1-Click™" efficiency of the online bookstores is biting into Bob's business. Increasingly, his half-page to one-page Arcturus Book Inc. Catalogue editorials are given over to diatribes against AMAZON.COM and its electronic clones. In the March, 2000 issue, he writes, "For the Internet is nothing less than the coup-de-grace, a bullet to the head, to the human mind which has already been stripped, by 50 years of TV, film and video, of its ability to concentrate, to focus, to conceive, create and bring to fruition the sort of triumphant project which was so commonplace two or three centuries ago. Do you think there is an Edward Gibbon alive today, who could labor two decades on just one (6 quarto volume) masterpiece: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire? Not on your life there isn't, and there never will be again." Statements like, "Amazon.Com just lost another $51 million. When it crashes, you'll HAVE to come to Arcturus!" and, "Support your specialist booksellers with your orders! (Financial) Death to the conglomerates!" are cropping up with increasing frequency at the bottoms of his pages.
It's all most unfortunate. Bob Girard is right; the electronic instant gratification of the Internet is taking something essential away from all of us. And one of those things just might be the Arcturus Books, Inc. Catalogue, which you only get once or twice unless you buy something from Arcturus Books--and which is more than worth that price of admission. If you didn't think you liked UFO books--you'll definitely like this catalogue about them. It's an old-fashioned, quality literary experience--the sort the Internet may soon be consigning to the burial grounds of the obsolete.
So that the reader will know what I have been talking about, the Journal of Pan-Dimensional Literature herewith presents some typical Girardian reviews, from Arcturus Books catalogues of recent years. Enjoy these Arcturian Acerbities, which often rise to poetic heights--and which, moreover, will tell you better than anything else what's really been going on in the strange and marvelous world of UFO literature.
(January, 1997, pp. 8-9:) 51. Strieber, Whitley. THE SECRET SCHOOL: PREPARATION FOR CONTACT. Harper-Collins, 1996. HC, 272pp. This is called a "prequel," as opposed to a sequel, to Strieber's previous UFO works, because the author's subject is his childhood experiences with his alien abductors and the lessons he learned at "The Secret School." This approach will greatly help anyone who wants to know where Strieber is coming from. However, in mid-life, decades after these "lessons" were first taught him, Strieber can no longer detach his psyche from their impact on his life; once awakened from the hiding places in his subconscious, he begins to grasp the role those lessons have in his own personal "estimate of the situation." He sees that he can see-into his and into our future, and he feels that he can understand many present and future cultural changes in a unique way because of the "previews" he received as a child. The book ends with a series of predictions by which history will be able to judge whether he was right or not about the direction we are all heading. This is not a warm-'n-fuzzy book. Rather, it's quite chilling on several levels, and it reveals the uncomfortable predicament in which the human species finds itself today: as marginally aware beings who do not and cannot comprehend their relative position among other life forms in the cosmos, and whose evolution is nearly paralyzed because our physical nature and needs preclude our perceiving the infinitely larger reality which surrounds us--thereby dooming us to exist in the increasingly painful conditions we create for ourselves in a physical existence, without realizing in the least what we might have become, had we only understood our true situation and reached longingly toward higher consciousness. Chew on that for a while, $21.50.
(June, 1997, p. 5): 22. Frazier, Kendrick, Barry Karr, and Joe Nickell. THE UFO INVASION: THE ROSWELL INCIDENT, ALIEN ABDUCTIONS AND GOVERN MENT COVERUPS. Prometheus, 1997. HC, 314pp. Poor potty-training techniques may have led to the mind-sets behind these 40 attacks on UFO credibility and credulity. On the other hand, some of the debunking is correct and deserved. Undermined in this book are such favorites as the 1897 Airship, MJ-12, Roswell, the JAL Airline sighting, Kecksburg PA crash, John Mack, crop circles, abductions, Rendlesham Forest, NSA documents, Gulf Breeze and government cover-ups. Prometheus parades all of its big shooters for this one, and the results are what one might expect from the anally retentive. $25.95.
(August, 1998, p.7): 32. Clark, Jerome. SPACEMEN, DEMONS & CONSPIRACIES: THE EVOLUTION OF UFO HYPOTHESES. Fund for UFO Research, 1997. 8-1/2 x 11, 40pp, bibliog. The sudden manifestation of the modern UFO Age, bursting among us just as we humans were beginning to send captured V-2 rockets beyond our Earth into limitless space, naturally caused a wide and sometimes bizarre set of mental reactions in our species. Now, 50 years later, UfOlogy is still forced to fight not only the scornful--and often abusive--larger world outside, but is forced also to fight itself from within, for the just-mentioned spread of hypotheses (ranging from Heaven's Gate down through outright denial of UFOs) guarantees as much discord as any controversy in which human personality is free to interpret vague and often anecdotal "evidence." How this all came about is the subject of Jerry Clark\rquote s short essay, and, as one of the few living examples of an individual who actually attempted to create a viable standardized body of historical reference material (in his 3-volume UFO Encyclopedia, which you may buy here at $56.95 per volume) for the use of ufologists and non-ufologists alike, his opinions deserve consideration by all of us who claim to be ufologists. $15.00, in stock.
(July, 1997, p. 13): 190. _____ THE TALMUD OF JMMANUEL. Wild Flower, 1992. Qual. Soft, 229pp. This is the one in which Meier has the unparalleled gall to use his own likeness as a "channeled" portrait of Jesus. This is not to mention the additional unparalleled gall needed to "remember" a conveniently vanished "Aramaic Manuscript" from the first century A.D. which contains the true teachings of Jmmanuel (Jesus). This Meier lout should easily claim the world record--or at least, the Akashic Record--for "Least Shame in A Human Being." $15.95.
(August, 1998, p. 9): 50. La Violette, Paul. EARTH UNDER FIRE: HUMANITY'S SURVIVAL OF THE APOCALYPSE. Starburst Publications, 1997. HC, 405pp Oh, a super book! I lack the time and the space to describe fully--will limit myself to saying that this is a book which offers a scientific analysis of the "Deluge" of scripture and oral tradition worldwide, and seeks the cause of this earthly catastrophe deep in the cosmos. In a theory a bit reminiscent of that offered in When the Earth Nearly Died; a "superwave" from space washes over the earth in the way that a tsunami washes over a coastline following an undersea quake. The idea is then supported by geophysica l and cultural evidence in the archaeology and mythology of global civilizations. A challenging and entirely plausible hypothesis, highly recommended. Autographed by author, $25.95.
Latest Arcturus Book Catalogue (we will be updating this list)
1. PROCEEDINGS (G. Van
Tassel). The following are available as