. . . that there is a 3-Day Novel Contest? There is! It has been held every year since 1977, when a group of Vancouver writers started the tradition. The challenge takes place every Labor Day weekend and offers the sweet sweet grand prize of publication for its winner. How did I not know about this? Until stumbling across a copy of Dayshift Werewolf at the library last weekend, I never knew such a thing existed! Even cooler is that last year's winner (Jan Underwood, author of DW) is from my very own city AND she's a foreign language instructor. Now I ask you, what is not to like?
While the back cover blurb describes the book as being about "the underdogs of the horror industry: a claustrophobic mummy, a free-wheeling zombie, a demon with a hidden human and other incompetent monsters who find new truths in life on the dark side", I have to say that my favorite of the novel's eight chapters is the one about a disgruntled gnome, who finds that the great American West is not all it's cracked up to be - not to mention alarmingly short of camembert and people who are not rude.
A victim of displacement via the loss of habitat (Norwegian old growth forest), he defects to America to seek his fortunes in the pristine wilderness of the Rockies. He describes the plight of his people thusly:
...the logging has had a devestating effect on Gnome culture. Most of us have lost our splendid heritage and become tame. Many have assimilated into the Garden Gnome society. I watched it all happening before my eyes, and I decided to take a stand. If the habitat of the Forest Gnome is destroyed, why then, the Forest Gnome must take his culture elsewhere. Gnome culture must be preserved. I am the beginning of the Gnome Diaspora.
How, I ask, can anyone not love a story containing the words "Gnome Diaspora"? One doesn't often hear those two words in the same sentence, but the idea of a gnomic diaspora delights me. Frankly, there's something just something about gnomes. My favorite coloring book as a child? Gnomes! One of my favorite news stories ever? Gnomes! I come from a family with a weird gnome connections going back to the old country - black and white photos of my teenage mother in the garden with what appears to be her gnome guide and pictures of a two year old me in our German apartment admiring what appears to be a lawn gnome chronicle this strange relationship between our respective peoples. And that is why this character just tickled me to no end.
Beyond that, however, the rest of the novel was entertaining - especially the chapter about the demon, which somehow had a Gaimanesque quality. It was also the perfect short (a mere 80 pages), diverting novel to read on a day when I was worried about my own little singing werewolf, Toby, who is spending the night at the vet. The poor guy has a bowel obstruction from the neighbor kids slipping him bones through the fence.
I feel so bad for him, like I'm a bad dog mother, for not having noticed or at least insisted on Saturday when we were working with the vet via the phone that he squeeze him in for an appointment. Life will be MUCH happier tomorrow, when Toby will be home again and Baxter, Ruby and I can stop moping around like we have nothing to live for. Apparently he is the glue that holds our little family together. Meanwhile, books are a good distraction and any book that can keep my mind off of missing my buddy is a good one.