Department of Unnecessary Filler

There are times when I think I pick on Patrick Anderson just a little too much, but then he goes and delivers a review like today’s (for Charlie Huston’s fab ALREADY DEAD) that makes me shake my head rather violently.

First there’s this particular caveat:

…when I picked up Huston’s latest, I was eagerly awaiting the conclusion

of the Thompson saga, only to have my hopes dashed. Huston, it seems,

has put his trilogy on hold while cranking out “Already Dead,” which

is, of all things, a vampire novel.

Now, considering that if you pay any attention at all to what goes on in the publishing industry — and any reviewer who claims to live in a bubble about that sort of thing is likely lying through their teeth — how do you not twig to the fact that there’s been advance hype on the book since, well, even before last May’s Book Expo? But then, this is just an awkward segueway into Anderson’s upcoming rant, which brings to mind the following expression, to echo the words of Daffy Duck and other WB cartoon characters who appeared during WWII, “is that trip really necessary?”

I have a problem with vampire novels. My problem is that I’ve never

read one, never wanted to, never expected to. Why? Searching my soul, I

decided that my bias began when I was 10 or 12 years old and every

Saturday afternoon hastened to the Bowie Theater (on Camp Bowie

Boulevard in Fort Worth) to see whatever B-movie the distant gods of

Hollywood had beamed our way. One Saturday I encountered Bela Lugosi’s

Count Dracula. A budding critic even then, I decided the creepy count

was the dumbest thing I’d ever seen on the silver screen. Dumber than

the Dead End Kids. Dumber than Lash LaRue. Dumber even than those inane

follow-the-bouncing-ball cartoons.

Having thus acquired a

distaste for vampires, I proceeded for many years to resist the lure of

Anne Rice and other chroniclers of the undead. It’s not that I don’t

believe in vampires. I think they’re out there and you can spot them if

you stay alert. There’s a lobbyist in the news these days who I’m

pretty sure is one, and there are prominent leaders in both the House

and the Senate I wouldn’t get too close to. Call me a bigot if you

must, but as reader and reviewer my bottom line has been this: I don’t

do vampires.

And uh, we should care about this why? All he had to say was something like “vampire novels aren’t my thing” and that gives enough reviewer context for him to then trumpet why ALREADY DEAD is an awesome book in spite of his not-so-latent prejudices.

Sometimes having too much space to work with can be a reviewer’s serious undoing…