It started curled up in a little story I overheard: the one about being on drugs out in the woods and finding a disabled kid and bringing him back to your camp and feeding him, believing in your altered state the kid was a gnome. Well, I believed in it and told the story to my husband and his friends on more than one occasion. I kept telling it. I clearly loved to. I couldn’t tell you why. I found out several months later that it was an urban legend and felt the fool, unsure of whether I should tell them this or not. You know a story’s good when it will not abide its end, when it feels like a secret you might keep from your husband and your kid for a very long time indeed. How else to explain how it broke through the retaining wall that kept me from sleep and then took over my dreams—I know it’s boring saying so, but it’s true; you can’t control what holds you when you sleep. It even began to perforate my daily interactions.

Everywhere I went I began looking low and under things for evidence of other lives. Do you know how in the grocery wine aisles wineries have to pay for better placement, at eye-level and the shelf below? So all the wines on those shelves—the ones you think you want, the ones most people buy—aren’t as good as you think they are. They’re the wines they want you to want, and they’re never weird or interesting; they’re just wines, and if you want those wines, even or especially knowing this, that says something about you. So the wise know to look at the bottles that are a little harder to see, top shelf and bottom shelf, that don’t present themselves as obviously. I wondered what I had been missing with my eyes up where they always looked, where the marketers knew I looked.

That new looking action felt like a secret, like I was getting away with something. Or getting filled with something new. One house I walked by on my daily walk had a little gnome head at ground-level, underneath an unruly pile of marigolds. I’d never seen it until I started looking down. I must have walked by it ten thousand times. Was it just the head, I wondered, sitting atop the dirt, or had someone buried it up to its neck and left it there? And if so, was it for punishment or pleasure? Or had it burrowed down itself and felt comfortable there or was somehow trapped by domestic magic?


What is the relationship between a gnome and an elf?

Allow me to direct you The Evolution of Life, a table in the 1930 book The Solar System by Lieut.-Colonel Arthur E. Powell.

He explains:

It has already been mentioned that, besides the line of evolution which we are pursuing, there are also other lines which may be considered as running parallel with our own. For the divine life is pressing upwards through several streams, of which ours is but one, and numerically by no means the most important. We should bear in mind that physical humanity occupies only a small part of the surface of the earth, whilst entities at a corresponding level on other lines of evolution not only crowd the earth far more thickly than man, but at the same time populate the enormous plains of the sea and the fields of the air. The table of the evolution of life, appended here, shows the streams as flowing side by side as far as the mineral kingdom, but as soon as the upward arc is begun, they diverge. The streams re-unite at the Solar Spirits level.

I hope that covers it.

What does Noam Chomsky think of The Gnome Stories?

He seemed confused by the project. My original goal was to get as many Noams as possible to blurb the book, even if their "blurb" was an expression of confusion. I only really got to him.

What does Noam Dorr think of The Gnome Stories?

Why don't you ask him?


The scene of this Continuation of Discourses upon the Secret Sciences is laid in Ireland. An exile who had been staying at Berlin came to this country with the Marshal de Schomberg, who had accepted service under William, Prince of Orange, when he landed in England. The Relator accepts the hospitality of an Irish gentleman of the name of Schits (whatever real name these letters may represent), to whom he had rendered some sergice in the troubled state of that country, occasioned by a rising of James II of England. This Mr. Schits is given to the occult sciences, and an accident gives rise to a short discussion upon the nature of the pilgrimage to St. Patrick's Hole, at Lough Derg, in Donegal, near which St. Patrick and St. Dabeoc founded a Priorty, which privilege the Irishman considers had developed into a Species of buffoonery, induced by the avarice of the Monks. 1897.