Halloween may have passed but as the year begins to wind down, here are a few literary finds that jive with the coming season of raw cold :
From the Toast: How to Tell if You’re in a Gothic novel (your animals may be “vaguely eldritch” – and hate you!)
Also the Toast: a hilarious review of the Dracula Untold movie starring Bard the Bowman and Rickon Stark (also: Tywin Lannister as Some Random Vampire Dude in a Cave). I immediately knew that I would not see this film because, other than the whole “fantasy actors paying the rent” vibe, I also detected a whiff of this:
Anyway, once you’ve seen Coppola’s Dracula which still sets the watermark for eye candy for the the damned, there is really no need to see another silly Dracula movie where either Gerard Butler screws Vitamin C on the ceiling (you heard me) or Charles Dance licks a sword. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Charles Dance, in my opinion, can do anything he wants. I hope the next thing he does is a full length movie where he and Maisie Williams discuss the Targaryen lineage for five hours.)
Finally two bookish things: Anne Rice wrote another Vampire book. This reminded me that she is alive and that I am catastrophically old. At least, old enough to recognize that I’ve long since outgrown all the things I liked in the 90s. Particularly, this made me think about being fourteen and sharing the first few Vampire Chronicles books with my friends. We used to dress in black jeans and red velvet and roam the hills making our own awful vampire films. ( “But we didn’t put garlic on the *back* door!” shouted one victim just before the undead hordes descended.)
And last: H.P. Lovecraft. If you haven’t read it yet, go read Noah Berlatsky’s: Where Should We Bury the Dead Racist Literary Giants? over at The Awl:
“Joshi may think he’s protecting Lovecraft’s legacy by minimizing the role of race in his stories, but the truth is that, to the extent that Lovecraft is still meaningful, it’s in large part because of his portrait of his own racism. Lovecraft isn’t a great artist despite being a racist, as Joshi would have it. Nor is he a lousy artist because he’s a racist, as Older says. He’s a great artist and he’s a racist: Lovecraft’s world is one in which racism poisons everything, in which the fear of anyone who isn’t white is so overwhelming that it fills the seas and the skies and everything in between with gibbering demons and cosmic despair. The bleak, clotted hatred with which he renders that world is precisely what makes his work valuable.”
For the record, I’m in favor of replacing the World Fantasy Award with another author’s likeness (currently it is a cartoonish replica of Lovecraft’s head). At the same time, I enjoy Lovecraft’s work. Like all good horror writers, that twisted mirror he holds up reflects our own unmentionables. The racism Lovecraft reveals through his writing is still very much present in our “more enlightened” society. So too: the strains of self loathing that sustain it. Lovecraft feared “the other” but he himself was the true Haunter of the Dark.