Monday, April 13, 2009


Last week my wife and I were shopping for a couple of books at one of our Coles'Bookstores. By the way, I see no sense having two bookstores that are practically the same within spitting distance to each other. I have written to Heather Reisman, CEO of Chapters/Indigo books, many times over the years outlining the obvious advantages for her--as well as us--to the idea of closing both Coles and erecting a nice, big Chapters Bookstore on Spar Road next to WallyMart and Depot. Unfortunately, my letters go unheeded, and I have a suspicion are filed under the Crank/Odd/Weird category in the cabinet. However, if we all shout long enough and loud enough, just maybe someone will hear us---it seems to be the Cape Breton way. To have a big Chapters store here makes perfect sense to me. But I'm off track; we're talking about Vampire books? Right.

Yes, my wife and I were in the process of buying a couple of books at Coles. I slipped in TWILIGHT by Stephanie Meyer hoping my wife would not notice, and also hoping she would read it so I could get a review. This ingenious manoeuvre on my part has worked with aplomb many times in the past. However, since reading my post of THE SHACK, she has become wise to my intent, and at the checkout, without looking, passed the book behind her for me to discard from the pile. Rats! She said, "If you want it, you read it. I can't waste my time" referring, of course, to my slip when I said the same in regards to her reading THE SHACK. Like the great elephant, my wife never forgets.

So I don't have a personal review of TWILIGHT by Stephanie Meyer. However, it is a vampire book, a huge bestseller as are all Meyer's other books of the same theme, and a craze now spreading across North America, and a successfully popular movie to boot. The book(s) are geared to young girls around the age of 12, but lately a lot of moms are reading them too. In these novels--so I hear--- suspense is high, danger is evident, romance is palpable, plot is important(as opposed to detail), and sex is hinted at. What ever happened to Heidi?

Vampires, of course, do not exist; let's get that clear. Vampires and vampire lore have been around for hundreds of years mostly based on ignorance and superstitions. It always amazes me how a huge body of information, description and literature can amass around something that doesn't exist. Man truly is an imaginative being. And the one writer who contributed the most to this was Bram Stoker with his book DRACULA. It really is a great novel, and just about everyone knows a scene from it.

Interesting to note that DRACULA is a epistolary novel meaning the story is told through a series of letters. Since this is the 19th century and letter writing was extremely popular(think Austin), it stands to reason that certain novels are written in this style(another being Mary Shelley's Frankenstein). If it was written today it probably would be in text since letter writing has fallen out of favour. Imagine. What would it look like?: Drac cam 2 c u 2 byt u'r nck, lol, lol. (By the way, there's no novels written yet in TEXT style, so if you now decide to write one in this style, you'll have to give over 20 percent of the profits to me for the inspiration fee. lol) Today the epistolary novel is rare, but young writers like Lionel Shriver have used it quite effectively in her award-winning novel WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN. I'm off the track again.

But if you're interested in vampire literature, you really should read Irish writer J. Sheridan Le Fanu's controversial novella CARMILLA. Written around 1860, CARMILLA was the first lesbian vampire novel. This novella is quite powerful and it was proven to have a direct influence on Bram Stoker's DRACULA which came later. CARMILLA is still in print today but not that easy to find a copy.

The novel or novels that have stoked the fire of vampire lore in our century are those written by Anne Rice. INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE was her first and absolutely the best of the bunch. It really is quite the original take on the old bloodsucker genre. Nicely written, evenly paced, with unbelievably gory scenes. Rice also introduced human conscience and guilt into some of her vampires and therefore elevating the story to one with a moral dilemma. It is suburb. It was Anne Rice who restarted this whole vampire craze today. Her second novel VAMPIRE LESTAT was also very good. However, with fame and wealth now shrouding Anne Rice, I found her successive vampire books weak---the blood was diluted, so to speak. I hear that she has given up writing about vampires and writes exclusively about Jesus now. Interesting leap, don't you think?

Next: Australian writers(some)

1 comment:

  1. I am a fan of Dracula but I have to say that I am a little disappointed in not getting your review of Twilight. I was looking forward to reading it. Sure it was written with young teens in mind but so were many of the classics. And I wouldn't say that it was geared to just females. In fact the boys I work with are enjoying the books as well. It has everything that Dracula offers but it is put in a package that makes it easier for all ages to read.