MORNING CHAPS AND CHAPPETTES
I’m in the middle of writing stuff. Big stuff. It has a title and characters and a beginning now. Writing is all about reading, too. The stuff you put into your brain has an effect on the stuff that comes out. Think of it like playdough being pushed through a funny shaped hole or something.
I thought you may be interested in finding out about what I’ve been reading, ‘cos my taste is fucking ace (read, I’m good at parsing recommendations from the internets).
I have a few of these lined up, but I’m not going to be reviewing from the perspective of a reader. I’m going to talk about how these books have been written, what the dude or dudette writing must’ve been thinking as they went along. See this shit isn’t as much about symbolism and haughty prose and dilletante taste as you might think. Most of it is hitchin’ your way from A to B.
To start, recently I went back to my first love. Horror Novels are brilliant. They’re really the tippity-top of cheap thrills, and as covered elsewhere on this blog nothing affects your mood like a really fucked up horror novel.
In a shocking turn of events, THEY THIRST is about vampires. So many books are about vampires. There’s like, dozens of them. Only a tiny white-rhino sized population are worth reading though. There are a few people to blame. First of all, as we all know Bram Stoker went to America, heard a fucked up story about gravedigging shenanigans and then wrote Dracula. Hollywood piggybacked it, ‘cos whilst Dracula is epistolary he was in fact a playwright by day, and it’s very likely that the whole thing was written with drama in mind in the first place.
After Dracula and hollywood, people got sick to fuck of vampires because really they’re just fucking everywhere. It wasn’t until Stephen Motherfuckin’ King came back with Salem’s Lot that they came back into vogue. Salem’s Lot, other than being a truly bad-ass piece of fiction in every sense of the word, was also yet another doorway into cinematic legend- Danny Glick at the window. I bet you haven’t even seen the terrible TV movie, but I bet you have seen this long toothed, bad pajama’d motherfucker right here.
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GOOGLE SHIT LIKE ‘BEST HORROR WRITERS FOR HORROR WRITERS’
Robert McCammon is more famous than I have any right to understand, given that I lived in blissful ignorance of his entire existence until about a year ago. Even then, it took plenty of glowing testimonials from ardent fans-turned-writers before I took the dive with him. RM quite famously gave up on writing for a while. Pigeonholed as a horror writer, he tried to break free and write, err, horror by other means. The man wouldn’t let him, so he fucked off and took his ball with him. He’s back now and I have it on good authority that his new stuff (most recently THE FIVE) is actually pretty fucking cool indeed.
If you google about for info on legendary horror, RM’s name pops up all the time. His most acclaimed novel is Boy’s Life, which is sort of his version of ‘IT’. Bzzzt, we’re not interested in that shit today. Oh no. We want the grimy early novels, the ones written in a fugue of potential, the ones where we can still parse the thought processes behind the words.
THEY THIRST IS ABOUT PAR AS A NOVEL
Should you read THEY THIRST? I don’t fucking care dude, there’s too many books. It’s like, okay. But at the same time it’s really cool. Cool in a way that it wouldn’t be allowed to be these days. There’s very little of anything pretentious here. Occasionally RM tries to make literary allusions to Sumerian myth. He writes about Hungary the same way the Victorians did about the fucking Congo. He also commits that god-awful sin of cross referencing characters and themes from an even shittier, earlier book, as if anybody but him gives half a damn about them. KILL YOUR DARLINGS, word nerds.
In THEY THIRST, Vampires take over LA. Led by some Hungarian Poindexter undead Prince, they fuck up everything- the barros, Hollywood, Cemeteries, the po-po. I’d like to think that RM was thinking of some kind of awesome high-level satire, taking aim at how many vampire books there were out there by setting one in a city of uppity-billion people. However I think the dude just got dem vibes from the city for reals. Like, he sees LA as a nice place and all (or so he’ll say to interviewers) but you can smell the dislike for LA and it’s walking-deadness, even at a distance of 30+ years.
Written like a Stephen King novel, RM drags some fun characters forwards with no plan and only a few tentpoles. Getting Prince Vulcan (yeah, he’s called that alright) to the Kronsteen Castle. The sandstorm that fucks everyone up. The Hungarian cop being fired because he’s the only one who realises hundreds of thousands of Vampires are fucking everything else up. There’s a reporter who is just trying to be the best goddamn reporter she can. There’s an Albino motor-cycle gang of one, operating on Terminator levels of ultra-violence for no reason other than ‘well that’s pretty fucking cool, in hindsight’.
My favourite vamp novel innovation from RM was the Coffin tycoon, who was sadly discarded soon after the novel opens. Horror geeks, write me a novel about a Coffin tycoon and I’ll buy it. Or read the sample on smashwords, or something. Maybe.
RM writes with a sense of urgency over any ornament or style. He’s trying to finish this fucking book and it shows. He’s hitting dem tentpoles, and dragging you with him. That’s always an obvious effect of a ‘page turner’. A good writer keeps the reader with him as he tries to smash out that wordcount, a bad writer fills you with nonsense and doesn’t want to finish it him or herself anyway. About every other sentence in THEY THIRST starts with ‘In an instant’ or ‘In the next moment’ or ‘Immediately’. This book is a great exercise in learning how to move forward at pace. The whole thing is just one big rush to the finish line, even given it’s relative size (550+ pages or something).
The prose itself is workman like. RM would later go on to do great things, such as the aforementioned Boys Life and the post apocalyptic SWAN SONG, and it’s only recently that his earliest 3 novels have been made available again. THEY THIRST is probably the strongest of the three early attempts, and RM has said publicly that he was lucky that he could ‘learn how to write in public’. It is probable that THEY THIRST could’ve been something really cool where it to percolate for a few years more.
HEY, AT LEAST THE VAMPIRES ARE NOT TOTAL PUSSIES
As it stands, it’s a pretty standard Vampire novel that does not entertain one moment of fuckery with emotions and feelings. RM’s Vampires are bad-ass, except for when they’re being poindexters complaining about NOT BEING A CHILD, or being called things like Prince Vulcan or Kobra. In retrospect this whole book is dripping with late 70s musty bullshit, but there’s a fucking charm to that. Like a racist uncle telling war stories, or a tramp necking a bottle of cider. It’s wrong and it’s not clever but shit, you’re consuming it ain’t cha? The gruffness and attempted machismo kind of works, especially if you grew up in the aftermath of VHS 80’s crapathons.
ALSO THE GERMAN COVER. GODDAMN.
What is wrong with Germany man?