I've been reading Neil Gaiman's American Gods. It has been on my to-be-read list for some time and I'm so pleased that this was the one i picked from the pile. I love his use of language and his imagination and wit seem endless and effortless.
Imagine my delight when I found, in this book, the perfect accompaniment to this giant gnome photograph - an answer to the question (on all our lips) "Why?".
Two central characters are en route to a roadside attraction called the Hotel on the Rock.
One of them explains the appeal of roadside attractions - that, in America, these phenomena are places of power.
'Its perfectly simple,' said Wednesday. 'In other countries, over the years, people recognised the places of power. Sometimes it would be a natural formation, sometimes it would just be a place that was, somehow, special. They knew that something important was happening there, that there was some focusing point, some channel, some window to the Immanent. And so they would build temples, or cathedrals, or erect stone circles, or ... well, you get the idea.'
'There are churches all across the States, though,' said Shadow.
'In every town. Sometimes on every block. And about as significant, in this context, as dentists' offices. No, in the USA, people still get the call, or some of them, and they feel themselves being called to from the transcendent void, and they respond to it by building a model out of beerbottles of somewhere they've never visited, or by erecting a gigantic bat-house in some part of the country that bats have traditionally declined to visit. Roadside attractions: people feel themselves being pulled to places where, in other parts of the world, they would recognise that part of themselves that is truly transcendent, and buy a hot dog and walk around, feeling satisfied on a level they cannot truly describe, and profoundly dissatisfied on a level beneath that.'
'You have some pretty whacked out theories,' said Shadow.*
Hence - the largest gnome in the world.
*Neil Gaiman, American Gods, p.125, 126-7 Headline pub. 2002