There are too many werewolf stories around these days. And way too many vampire stories. I have not read any of the Twilight series, so I will not denigrate it, I will simply say it doesn’t interest me enough to waste my precious reading time. And I will not even look at a vampire story now – it has been so overdone.
We were talking about this the other evening in our writing group, and my whining brought back to my head a sudden memory of a long time ago. I remembered reading a short story called “The Compleat Werewolf” by Anthony Boucher, a giant in the world of early Science Fiction and mystery type stuff (he was a Science Fiction editor and a Mystery writer). Clearing the cobwebs and thinking hard, I remember I read it as part of a collection – probably around 1970 or so. I remembered bits of the plot: a professor changing from a wolf to a man in front of his class, forgetting he was naked, a bullet splashing off of a wall and the horror of the werewolf when he realized the near miss was silver, and a portly magician demonstrating the Indian rope trip to tragic ends.
Well, a quick Internet search and some library wrangling and I had in my hot little hands a copy of The Compleat Werewolf. I was surprised to find it was written in 1942 – the tale was older than I thought (there is a reference to the forty-eight states in the story). It held up well, though.
The whole basis of the tale is that a werewolf isn’t inevitably evil (though most are) and that, when used with discretion and intelligence, a power like that can be darn useful.
I enjoyed reading the thing. It is more a detective story than anything, though the whole mystery is pretty simple and unravels without much tugging of the sweater string. It is sparsely written and hardboiled enough to go down easy and quickly, but still has a few literary flourishes thrown in. I have to love any tale that includes the phrase, “this fantastic farrago of questions.”
To sum up, The Compleat Werewolf is a yarn. Not entirely serious, not without a wink or two, but a complete story, where a bad guy shoots himself, the hero (wolf) gets the girl (not as he had hoped… but better), and there are practical considerations in spite of supernatural occurrences.
So don’t be afraid to mosey down to your local biblioteca and check out this or some other collection of classic story telling. You might learn a thing or two and have a good time in the meantime.