Feeling the Bite of Trends

Call me strange, but I just don’t get it.

It seems that, if I wanted to immediately write a book that would generate significant revenue, all I would need is a relatively sound plot arc and some vampires. See, if you involve vampires, you’re bound to sell copy after copy. Vampires are all the rage.  On television, on film, in print. Even Abraham Lincoln hunted them, right?

When I was in high school, a friend recommended Anne Rice to me. I can’t remember if I borrowed or purchased Interview with the Vampire, but it captivated my attention. I found it one of those books that I couldn’t put down…something about the darkness of it seemed dangerous, perhaps wrong, and definitely irresistible. I had a poster in my bedroom with the book’s famous tag line.

I remember having a strange dream in which I woke to find the friend who had recommended the book to me, now a vampire herself, standing in my bedroom door, saying that I had touched the book and now something bad would happen. That was weird, but I didn’t put as much weight on those sorts of experiences then as I do now.

I moved on to The Vampire Lestat, and made it about halfway through the book. I stopped. I was squirming. There’s such a thing as too dark, and, for me, this was it. The word that I remember ringing through my head was “demonic.”

Now, I’m not here to preach against a sub-genre, or a type of character, or anything of the sort. I’m not pounding my fist and claiming that your eternal soul is at risk if you read vampire fiction. What I will say about my past experience is this: with the caveat that I didn’t have the literary analysis skills that I have now while I was in high school, those books, as disturbing as they were to me (even then, it took a lot to make me stop reading a book once I had started), was that at least Rice was good at her craft. While I wouldn’t re-read those books today, I respect her as a skilled writer.

And, I think, those two points about that high school experience encompasses my issue with the vampire craze in literature today. First, I have spiritual misgivings about these fictional creatures, and those misgivings were summarized much better than I could ever state by movie critic and author Jeffery Overstreet. He said (and I’m paraphrasing) that vampires in fiction represent individuals who are forever beyond redemption, and that this is why they are so terrifying, because they represent a lie. While we could debate that as a theological absolute, stop to consider the statement. It will cause gears to turn that haven’t turned before, I promise.

My other issue with the current craze is the issue of the literature being well-written. Rice’s books were crafted well, as was Stoker’s original novel. Compare this to Twilight, and I think you’ll find Twilight wanting. At the risk of mixing apples and oranges regarding different mediums, compare this to what appears on television and film with the current trend, which, ala True Blood, is essentially soft porn with a supernatural twist.

I’ll admit that I have an issue with jumping on bandwagons. I avoid most popular trends as though my life depended on it. I think I have good reason, here, however. I have friends whose reading assessments I respect defend Twilight as well-written. Assuming that their assessment is correct, I’ll still stand on my assertion that so much of the other vampire sub-genre offerings we see in print and on the screen are attempting to capitalize on the success of something that is arguably well-crafted, by adding the same type of genre spin onto something that isn’t well-crafted. That’s a sign of valuing profit over artistic substance. And that, my friends, isn’t cool.

These are all reasons for which I find vampire literature inherently suspect. Have you read any of the above, or something of which I’m not aware? Let me know…

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