Thursday, January 14, 2010

Vampire Stories edited by Richard Dalby

First published in 1992.

At once glamorous and loathsome, vampires are among the most memorable figures in the literature and film of the horror genre. These undead beings, possessed of the supernatural powers of metamorphosis and hypnotism, stalk the night for the blood of the living. They have fascinated and terrified generations of writers and readers. Here are 18 bone-chilling tales of these bloodsucking creatures of the night, written by some of the most distinguished writers of the genre.

From premier writers including Anne Rice and Bram Stoker, the stories in this collection represent some of the finest horror writing spanning the past two centuries. Here are gothic melodramas set in Russia and Germany, as well as more modern twists on the vampire legend that take place in contemporary England and the United States. These are tales of decadence, lust, and loathing; they capture the dark side of the human psyche, dead and undead. Making few concessions to the squeamish, the tales in this collection will keep readers awake at night. (book flap blurb)

Well, I wasn't kept up at night but these shorts were definitely some of the better ones I've read in the more "classical" collections. I was a little put off by the introduction by Peter Cushing who wrote the forward. He mentioned that Vlad Drakul means "the Devil" when, in fact, it means "the Dragon" and is spelled with a 'c.' See this article for more information. Ask the people of Romania and Vlad the Impaler is actually a hero to them. He didn't randomly impale people on spikes for shits and giggles as people are so wont to think. He protected his people from an invading force. Vlad Dracul impaled his Turkish enemies on spikes all long the road leading up to his castle. When the general of the opposing army came to attack and saw all of his men dead and dangling all the way up to his enemy's door . . . well, would you stick around?

Anyway, back to the stories. Aside from the forward (written, I'm sure, for effect more than accuracy), these stories were pretty freakin' good and damn inventive. And lo! No glittering! Sure there was that slug-like vampire (really it was more of a misty thing in the amorphous blob shape of a slug) and then Christine with fangs (it was a racing car that drained your blood through your feet when you gassed it), not to mention the one about the Mona Lisa. How freakin' cool was that! But you're curious now, huh? But no glitter. Chagrin.

Of course, there were your standard vampire stories in there too. What irks me is that as much as I don't like Anne Rice (I'm not a fan of authors that treat their own fans like shit) and I really don't want to like her writing, some of it is just amazing, including her story in this book. For a short story, she included enough to set the tone and get the point across but it wasn't as heavy as her novels. At least it couldn't stop open a door.

Of course, the older stories were a little more difficult to get through, especially the ones with solid blocks of talking heads (basically they were nothing more than one guy telling a rambling story in huge blocks of dialogue, blah). A couple turned out to be pretty decent but there were also a couple that I really don't need to read again.

What I liked best about this collection was just how different the stories were. Considering how, now, we're in a time where every vampire out there blends into one another, it was so refreshing not only to read about true-to-form vampires in their element, but such vastly different types of vampires (from the standard blood drinkers to the psi-vamps to more ghostly beings to seemingly inanimate objects). It makes me wonder if our current culture (not just in the last couple of years but spanning back a generation or so) has become so inundated with a certain type of vampire that we're beginning to be unable to see outside of the box. The inventiveness of these stories just flabbergasted me. I loved them. And they makes me want to see Daybreakers even more!

I found this book on the bargain shelf at Barnes and Noble. If you can scrounge a copy, I'd recommend snagging it and reading for yourself. More classical vampire fans (for these story lack much of the romanticism and general contentment of current vampires, plus these are considered "adult," as in not YA, stories) will get a huge kick out of this book.


Emme Toaye said...

Interesting review and makes me wonder of the plight of the Vampire in our world today. They do seem to ramble less now days, don't they. I think they are much more able to blend in today than in years past. In a way they have come full circle once again being the hero.

Book Snob said...

This book sounds really cool and I love vampire stories. Thanks for sharing!

Wrighty said...

This sounds like a book I would be interested in. I've always liked the classic stories. That's great background info on Vlad Dracul. I knew some bits and pieces about him. I didn't know that Ann Rice treated her fans like shit though. I'll never understand that and I'm always surprised when I hear it about authors. I've never read any of her work but I'm very familiar with it.

Thanks for a great review! I will be on the look out for this one!

riki jorden said...

hey really information provided by you on Tattooing Dalby is nice.

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