Kathleen Hale Is a Crazy Stalkerby Kathleen Hale
A captivating collection of essays that are unlike anything you’ve ever read before, exploring sexual assault, online obsession, motherhood, and the best way to kill a feral hog
In six wide-ranging essays, Kathleen Hale traces some of the most treacherous fault lines in modern America—from sexual assault to Internet trolling, from environmental illness to our own animal nature. In these thought-provoking stories of predators and prey, Hale proves herself to be an exhilarating new voice whose writing is both fearless and profound.
In “First I Got Pregnant. Then I Decided to Kill the Mountain Lion,” Hale recounts the month she spent tracking a wild cat lost in the Hollywood Hills while pregnant; in “Prey,” she tells the troubling story of her sexual assault as a freshman in college; other essays recount the mesmerizing stories of a trip to hunt wild hogs in Florida, and a standoff with an anonymous blogger. Taking no prisoners and fearing no subject matter, Kathleen Hale wields razor-sharp wit, uncommon levels of empathy, and daring honesty, even in detailing some of the most difficult moments of her life.
Outlandish, candid, and sometimes unsettling, Kathleen Hale Is a Crazy Stalker introduces an arresting new voice for this strange American century.
“Kathleen Hale is Jimmy Breslin, Renata Adler, and Hannah Montana rolled into one hilarious and daring writer.”—John Mulaney
“Half journalism, half confession, Kathleen Hale’s fantastic collection allows readers to visit the unique, brilliant and intense place that is her mind. Her cultural tourism is written with a sensitivity and self-awareness reminiscent of David Foster Wallace and Jon Ronson. Hale writes about people who are often overlooked and mocked by elite society and her charm is that the only person she finds ridiculous is herself.”—Jesse Eisenberg, author of Bream Gives Me Hiccups
“Kathleen Hale’s amazing new book surprises at every turn with a sane madness. In these six propulsive essays united by a common theme, the elephant stampedes with cause, the feral pig gets his deadly due, and Hale’s humor, self-deprecation, and biting honesty guide us through the jungle that is her mind. Her genius is a nonstop read.”—Sheila Nevins, former president of HBO Documentaries
“Kathleen Hale’s writing is a tour de force. These soul-baring autobiographical essays read like the best kind of fiction but pack the unmistakable wallop of reality.”—Pinckney Benedict, author of Miracle Boy and Other Stories
“You my ten o’clock?” a man in jeans called to us. He was standing under a metal lean-to, surrounded by meat hooks, wiping off his hands. I wouldn’t call him a handsome man. His skin looked like beef jerky, but he seemed healthy. I felt safe around him, like he would save me if a hog got its horns into my stomach, even though later he would have me sign a liability waiver that made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that I could die and that was my business.
“Is Big Mama here?” I asked.
I had spoken to Big Mama on the phone a few days prior about appropriate hunting gear. “Wear anything except booty shorts. It’s Florida, so the bugs get in,” she said. She kept calling me “honey child” and asking me to speak up because she was deaf from “all the crossbows.” I didn’t yet understand the crossbow reference. But I liked Big Mama.
“Big Mama’s not here,” the guy said, shaking his head. The look on his face suggested that Big Mama might be dead. “But I’m Joe.”
Joe led us to a locker full of guns and asked which ones we wanted. McKetta explained that she wouldn’t be hunting, just watching, because she was a vegan. “What’s ‘vegan’?” asked Joe. McKetta spent a while explaining the dietary restrictions she ascribed to, then told us that if we needed her she’d be taking pictures of the alligator heads scattered on the ground. Before she walked away, Joe had her sign another waiver. I was starting to feel nervous.
“How many waivers are there?”
“Enough so it’s not my fault.”
I stared at the guns.
“Can I talk to you about some feelings I’m having?” I asked.
I proceeded to explain to a now very confused Joe that in addition to concerns for my own safety, hog-wise, I worried that if I took off into the Floridian jungle with a gun, I might accidentally shoot myself in the face or kill McKetta. I explained that I wasn’t exactly what you might call “graceful,” or “athletic,” or “coordinated,” and had fallen over just that morning while putting on my denim overalls—and that falling over while putting on clothes was actually something I did pretty often.
Joe handed me a handgun, and I handed it back. So he suggested a crossbow, and I was like, “Are there any laws in Florida?” and Joe was like, “Not really, that’s why pedophiles go to live in the panhandle after they’re finished up with prison,” and I was like, “Whoa.”
Joe became exasperated. “Are you going to kill or not?”
I sighed. “I do want to kill, Joe, really I do.”
“Well, then pick a weapon!”
I racked my brain for other armaments, ones that would not have a chance of fatal ballistic error, but could think only of cartoonish weaponry, like swords and war hammers.
“Would a knife be too crazy?” I whispered.