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A taste of vampire literature
So you’ve exhausted zombies; you’re wrapping up our current Sunday Arts Section (SAS) Book Club read, World War Z, and you’re ready to graduate to vampire literature. You’d be surprised how many literary launching points there are for vampire literature even if you were a fan of the Twilight series, which, incidentally, does not qualify as legitimate vampire literature in a vampire connoisseur’s book.
Anne Rice (famous for her Vampire Chronicles) criticised Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series for violating the basic rules of vampire existence. Most importantly, vampires don’t operate during the day. If you haven’t read Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, beginning with Interview with the Vampire, you’ve missed the best modern vampire series there is. Rice captures the vampire world with style, humour and grace, replacing the main character in Interview with the Vampire, Louis, with his sidekick, Lestat, in the second book of the series, The Vampire Lestat. Lestat is a rock musician, a great cover for a nocturnal creature like a vampire.
Still, the best starting point for readers swooping down on vampire literature is undoubtedly Penguin’s Book of Vampire Stories, edited by Alan Ryan. Consider this a juicy vampire sampler that even includes an excerpt by the grandfather of all vampire literature: Dracula by Bram Stoker. If any of your literary friends turn up their noses at vampire literature, you might want to point out that vampires have their own classic, namely Dracula. When it comes to suspense, characterisation and conflict, you can’t beat Count Dracula from Transylvania, who is loosely based on Vlad the Impaler, a real-life figure in Romanian history.
Dracula is an unforgettable read, and it will whet your appetite for more vampire literature. Back to Penguin’s Book of Vampire Stories. Each short story in this collection is preceded by an explanation of the story’s importance in vampire literature. If you want to delve into the history of vampire stories, this is the place to be. At the same time the history is short and sweet—succinct—so that it doesn’t bog down the stories. If you know your vampires, then you’ve heard of Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris. It’s book one of the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mysteries that have been featured as a series on TV as well under the name True Blood. Many people learned to love vampires through Sookie Stackhouse.
Vampires have been deemed worthy of some of the greatest suspense and horror writers in modern literature. For example, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot is still going strong, and it was first published in 1975. In Salem’s Lot, a sleepy New England town discovers vampires. There’s no doubt about it, vampires rule or in the case of Lestat, rock.
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Next week: We explore famous books that have been written in the form of a diary or letters as we get ready for our next SAS Book Club book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shafer.