John Skipp & Cody Goodfellow’s novella The Day Before is notable not only for how many genres it touches on (Sci-fi, horror, showbiz satire, Mad Max-style actioner) but also how many emotions it packs into it’s modest page count.
The story concerns a group of Hollywood insiders that are pushed out of their makeshift sanctuary on Catalina Island. Our writer/director protagonist is convinced by a manipulative super-producer(a thinly veiled Harvey Weinstein caricature) to rove across the post-apocalyptic wasteland to make one final blockbuster. It seems impossible that a book with this outlandish a premise could so articulately represent two author’s complex love/hate relationships with Tinsel-Town, but it does just that.
Skipp and Goodfellow know movies. This may seem like an odd requirement for fiction but it’s not only very apparent upon reading it’s also integral to the book’s success. They pack their cast with archetypes only film fans would catch as archetypes: the ultra-professional Russian Cinematographer, the director-jail auteur, the successful hack, the alcoholic “method” actor. They’re all nicely drawn and surprising in the way that they adapt (or don’t) to the end of the world.
The authors could have easily turned the book into a damning but playful indictment of the film industry. Instead they opt to approach the subject matter with enough wit and a wider scope that moves it out of the realm of straight-up satire and into soulful, but critical, fiction.
At 150 pages The Day Before is readable in one joyous, extended sitting. Smart in ways that so few genre novels allow themselves to be: highly recommended. Available in paperback from Bad Moon Books.