Friday, March 19, 2010

The Dark Side of Vamplit

I'll say here at the beginning that I'm the very last person to condone banning or telling people what or what not books to read. No one has appointed me The Supreme Censor—I’ll leave that to the religious zealots and parent committees—and I would never impinge upon anyone’s freedom of choice.

That said, I do have a personal opinion of all the books I read (as we all do), and I pass some of those on to you as reviews. I also express my opinion on books I have not read, such as those ghostwritten for Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin. In no case, however, have I ever said, “Do NOT read this book!”

So quit blathering, Charlie, and get to your point. Okay, my point is this: I have absolutely nothing against vampire and zombie stories or the people who read them, but I do object to using real people, real events, and classic literature as the premise of, and foils for, creatures that do not exist. Here is a sampling, none of which I have (or will) read.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, by Seth Grahame-Smith

Smith, whom I believe started this trend with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, would have us believe that Lincoln’s mother died by a vampire when he was a boy of nine. He made a pledge of vengeance to track down and kill vampires, a vendetta which he secretly pursued throughout his life. According to Smith, slave owners were the allies of vampires.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim, by W. Bill Czolgosz

In this mangling of one of my all-time favorite books, Czolgosz’s premise has a mutant strain of tuberculosis bringing people back from the dead. Some are vicious and sent back to Hell, but the good ones stick around and work. Huck’s companion Jim is a good one, until a new strain of TB turns him into … you guessed it. Get this, though, from Amazon’s product review: “With so many zombies on the market, the slave trade is nonexistant [sic].”

Release, by Nicole Hadaway

In my opinion, this is the worst of the three. Hadaway, in an original story, uses the Holocaust as her venue. Miranda Dandridge is a vampire and, along with her friends, save children from the concentra- tion camps. Using the Holocaust, the real horror of all horrors, as the backdrop for the exploits of “good” vampires is a disgrace to both the millions of humans who died and those who survived.

Geeze, Charlie, lighten up! These books are for fun! Don’t you have a sense of humor?

Yes, yes I do. Once or twice a day, in fact.

What I don’t find humorous is this partial review by Buddy Guy for Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim:

. . . One might argue that this is a great way to introduce a new generation to some great classic authors. Sure, zombies are needed to lure them in, but I like to think that it is the story that keeps them coming back for more.

More what, Buddy? More skewed classics that downplay or eradicate slavery by weaving fictional fiends into their fabric? Why not destroy Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (since this book is in the public domain too), and blame werewolves (along with vampires and zombies) for slavery?

If it takes zombies to lure a new generation to the classics, I don’t have much faith that the newbies will scramble to read the original Austen or Twain, or seek out biographies of Lincoln, or search for books on slavery and the Holocaust. With the dumbing-down of America’s “school” systems, lures will catch fish but not many teens and young people.

And that is my opinion.


Wandering Coyote said...

Well, you are entitled to your opinion. I am not a fan of vampires or zombies so I would give these a miss anyways. They sound atrocious.

Kim Ayres said...

Maybe you need to start up a Professor B. Worm and Zombie Charlie blog to lure readers in, you know, as an easy access point to your writings...

Pat said...

It's abysmal is what it is IMO.

laytonwoman3rd said...

The horror...the horror!!!

(Buddy Guy? Really??? That Buddy Guy??)

TechnoBabe said...

Not into any thing vampire. Or Palin.

savannah said...

amen, sugar! xoxoxo

Tiffin said...

And then there's that Jane Austen one: Pride and Prejudice Zombies. M, J, J, and all the saints.

I'm wit you, BooBoo.

Shellie (Layers of Thought) said...

Well Charlie -
Feeling pissy are we today?

I am sure glad Nicole is not following your blog. You know shes and ex attorney?..tee hee

And hopefully she is not up on the technical end yet - so doesn't know about google alerts...

If its any consolation I don't think she is selling very many books... unlike Seth Grahame Smithe....who is now on his third classic to horror spin off - or is it his 4th?

Your opinion is yours we all have them, and you do make an important point. Its probably a good thing to get your no vampires or zombies note up again....

The question of the day is have you read Dracula?

Madame DeFarge said...

It's your opinion and I'm sticking to it. I like zombie films, but muddling them up with other stories is just daft.

Meg said...

I read Huckleberry Finn when I was eight. And when I was nine. And when I was ten. I didn't need no stinking zombies to make it cool. But, I like zombies as much as the next girl. Never been too fond of vampires, though. Even the good ones seem evil.

Although Sarah Palin as a vampire might be kind of cool.

Fay's Too said...

Of course you're right, Charlie. It's a really cheap shot using historical figures combined with vampires to sell a book.
But Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. That's almost tooo funny.
Shellie has a point, the whole vampire thing got going with some junk about Vlad Dracul, eh? I mean there was a real ruler and as far as I know he wasn't REALLY a vampire. . . . .
But hey, it's your blog, it's your opinion and I respect it. I won't be reading any of them. As it is, my "to read list" is growing much faster then my "done read it" pile.

Robert the Skeptic said...

I have no standing to comment here; this is a guy who read the "Classics Illustrated" versions of the great books. For you younger readers "Classics Illustrated" were essentially comic book versions of classic novels.

What can I say, they had great pictures. See for yourself:

I'll bet Charlie remembers 'em.

Murr Brewster said...

Oh my sweet fanny. REally? I'll have nightmares tonight for sure. No one should be messin' with my man Twain.

The comment about drawing kids in to the classics reminds me (it's a stretch) of how we had to listen to "Grand Canyon Suite" (hear the clip-clop of the hooves, kids?) in grade school so we'd get interested in classical music. Why not just blast out some Beethoven and see if THAT works?

Buzzard said...

One thought that comes to mind, is that I would be happy to have teens read anything, even vamplit if they would actually read.

On the other side of the coin, the vamplit they read should be original work, not piggybacked on the classics and skewing real history.

If you ever watched Jay Leno's "Jay Walking" series, it makes you cringe that children as well as adults do not have a better grasp of our own history. Throw in vampires and zombies, and by the 22nd century, America will be teaching these vamplit books as factual history.

Unfortunately Palin and Hannity are not characters out of a fiction book, but real life vampires, sucking the life out of society as we know it.

Charlie said...

Thank you, Madame DeFarge and Murr Brewster for visiting.

BUZZARD:I think you hit the nail squarely on the head, and in a lot fewer words.

Thanks to everyone who read and commented on this post.

laytonwoman3rd said...

"by the 22nd century, America will be teaching these vamplit books as factual history. " I don't think we'll have to wait that long. I understand that in Texas they've decided to remove Thomas Jefferson from the schoolbooks because he had the peculiar idea about the separation of church and state. I wish I were kidding.

Charlie said...

I'm checking it out, Linda. Your comment did not get lost in the shuffle.

kara said...

why didn't you listen to me?!

Charlie said...

I DID listen to you, Kara, because I made a comment on that post. You should know by now, however, that my mind is a sieve.

And who knew in August 2009 that it was going to turn into this?