Garlic, anyone? As two new books-not to mention the latest Twilight movie-make clear, vampire lit is the genre that will never die.
Author Doree Shafrir Photography Bettmann/Corbis
“IT’S NOT SO EASY being a vampire,” says Otto Penzler, owner of New York City’s Mysterious Bookshop and the editor of the new anthology The Vampire Archives (Vintage, $25). “It’s not all blood and roses.”
Penzler should know. In The Vampire Archives, out this month, he’s compiled an exhaustive collection of vampire lit from what he calls the “Pre-Dracula” era (Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce) to “Modern Masters” (Ray Bradbury, Peter Tremayne). Along the way he checks in with everyone from Guy de Maupassant, Arthur Conan Doyle and D.H. Lawrence to Bram Stoker, author of vampire touchstone Dracula.
Penzler’s 1,056-page tome will undoubtedly find a receptive audience. Tales of bloodsuckers have won legions of devoted readers since the Victorian era. In recent years, Stephenie Meyer’s blockbuster Twilight Saga, a series of four books originally targeted at teenagers, has proven that even a stake through the heart wouldn’t be enough to kill this genre. (The books have sold more than 40 million copies; the second film in the series, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, opens next month.) Meanwhile, The CW just premiered The Vampire Diaries, and HBO continues to gorge on True Blood, currently its most popular offering. In that series, vampires and humans are learning to coexist due to the invention of synthetic blood, which seems fitting for a culture in which social relationships are increasingly virtual. As sci-fiand fantasy writer Neil Gaiman writes in the introduction to The Vampire Archives, “We get the vampires we deserve.”
Meanwhile, Dacre Stoker takes a more traditional approach in Dracula the Un-Dead (Dutton, $26.95), also out this month.
A sequel to the most famous vampire novel of all, it’s based on the notes of his great-granduncle Bram. The story begins in 1912, a quarter century after Dracula’s “death,” when the team of vampire hunters who “killed” him begin dropping one by one.
Will vampire tales ever die? Perhaps not, but one master seems to have slaked her thirst for the genre. Interview with the Vampire author Anne Rice left bloodsuckers behind years ago and just released the first book in her new series…about angels.
DOREE SHAFRIR is a New York–based freelance writer who rarely ventures out during daylight.
What else to read on the go in October
I Am The New Black
Tracy Morgan of Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock fame finally gets serious—but not too serious—in his new memoir. The actor-comedian relates the story of his rough upbringing, his overnight success and his struggles with alcohol, demonstrating both uncommon candor and unfailing wit.
The Children’s Book
A.S. Byatt offers up a spellbinding new novel that follows Olive Wellwood, a children’s book author and expert in fairy tales who introduces a talented runaway to her privileged social circle. Set in England in the decades before the First World War, it brings the era grippingly to life.
Generosity, an Enhancement
What if happiness and goodness are genetically determined? That’s the premise of Richard Powers’ luminous novel, in which a young Algerian immigrant captivates a teacher with her unaccountably openhearted nature. After a genetic scientist gets involved, the news media pounces.
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