Friday, March 14, 2008

Light reading round-up, thirst-things edition

Mmmmm, I have just read a most delightful vampire novel recommended to me the other week by a vampiricist of my acquaintance. It is John Steakley's Vampire$, and it is the most heavenly mix of Western and oozing ichor and vampire-hunting, very Jack Reacherish avant-la-lettre only with supernatural infusions--and the Pope is a character!

Lovely gruesome horror-genre writing, made me desperately want to write a book along these lines (or indeed to become a vampire hunter, only I think it is not my skill set, I have never fired a gun for instance, I think I would have to be on the research team delving into the vampire literature in the Vatican Library--but genre conventions allow the team researcher to make a heroic late-stage doomed intervention in a particularly bloody battle!).

My favorite moment is the surprising but inevitable revelation introducing an unexpected narrative shift:
She hung her head. Then she reached down to the hem of her khaki skirt and took it in her fist and raised it up, exposing the perfect silken lines of her golden legs and the sharp heartache contrast of yellow panties. . .

. . . and there, there high on her left inner thigh . . .

Like the bite of a monstrous spider.

It could be no other kind of wound.

"Help me," she whispered.

"Help me. . ."
It's totally over the top and pulpy, and wonderfully good at the same time--reminds me of how my one regret about the Hard Case Crime books is that none of 'em have werewolves or vampires!

The excellence of this one drew my attention to the poor quality of recent light reading hereabouts. I have had a lot of travel and a serious case of stress/work burnout, including the wretched lung ailment--too many books purchased in airport newsstands! James Hetley's The Summer Country was a reasonably enjoyable read--hmmm, that's the one I did not purchase at an airport, why am I not surprised... I was ashamed when I reached the end of Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes that I had not put it down about fifty pages in and instead reread (if I could have magically obtained a copy while on the road) Lionel Shriver's infinitely superior We Need To Talk About Kevin or indeed any one of half-a-dozen other school shooting novels. Picoult's is readable but shlocky, with an absurd "twist" at the end--in particular the mother-daughter relationship seemed straight out of some already fairly cliched television drama. Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch books are usually fairly reliable pleasures, but The Overlook has a certain thinness to it that's no doubt related to its origins as a weekly serial.

Or perhaps I am just too jaded and worn out to appreciate the usual light reading!

In short, I must acquit myself tomorrow morning of a few pressing work responsibilities and then I am going to have an utter collapse for a few days--mercifully it is Columbia's spring break next week. What my health is calling for: read four or five novels; be supremely and impossibly lazy; write some soothing blog posts; and try and get some sleep! I really need a few days off, with no obligations whatsoever... but I think that is what I can now have, so all will doubtless be well...


  1. Oh dearie -- I hope you get some wonderful rest and recuperating done next week.

    Have you read "Project X" by Jim Shepard? It's about a school shooting, and I thought it was amazing. Maybe not what you're in the mood for in the immediate but I think worth picking up, if you haven't read it already.

    I look forward to reading recommendations for a string of vampire novels here. I am myself kind of desperate for the library to get in my copy of "Island of the Lost" which features shipwreck and cannibalism ...

    -- CAAF

  2. Okay, it's a bit cheesy, but I love the description of the "sharp heartache contrast of yellow panties."

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