Hallberg’s new novel—Boon Juster or The Reason for Everything—questions if what the nation saw on TV was nothing more than a NASA-orchestrated photo-op. The Apollo 11 moon landing, on July 20, 1969, was the high point of America’s belief in its greatness and superiority, Hallberg maintains. But it also may have marked the first step down the path to disillusionment and distrust of government and a bitterly divided country, economically and politically.
The linchpin of the plot of Boon Juster is whether a famous photograph of the hero astronaut hitting a baseball on the moon was real or staged. “You can ask the same question about many of the photographs and videos posted on NASA’s website,” Hallberg asserts, citing shadows pointing in the wrong direction or missing entirely, the USA decal being clearly visible even in deep shadow, or the halting, almost drugged speech of the Apollo 11 astronauts at their first press conference after returning to Earth.
“Probably the strangest photo is the full-color, high-definition shot of the Eagle lander,” Hallberg says. “It looks like a high-school science project, cobbled together from roofing paper, tinfoil, and several discarded pairs of TV rabbit ears. Plus lots of Scotch tape.” (http://www.hq.nasa.gov/
But although Hallberg thinks the photographic evidence included in Boon Juster may have been altered to make it more appealing and patriotic, he doesn’t believe that it proves that we never went to the moon. “Does it really matter?” he asks ironically. “Either way, it’s The Reason for Everything. If the Apollo program performed as advertised, what happened to the vision and cooperation and can-do spirit that made it possible? If it didn't—if the moon landings were just a publicity stunt—why should we be surprised we’re in the fix we’re in?”
About the Author: Garth Hallberg lives and writes in a small hamlet in Westchester County, NY.