Today, we give you a supernatural double-shot of goodness, in the spirit of Smugglivus! First up, it’s the lyrical stylings of Ryan Mecum, followed by a zombified version of a holiday classic from Adam Roberts…
Vampire Haiku by Ryan Mecum
Publication Date: August 2009
Paperback: 144 pages
Summary: (from amazon.com)
You hold in your hands a recently discovered poetry journal – the poetry journal of a vampire. William Butten was en route to a new land on the Mayflower when he was turned into a vampire by a fellow passenger, a beautiful woman named Katherine. These pages contain his heartbreaking story – the story of a vampire who has lived through (and perhaps caused) some of America’s defining events. As he travels the country and as centuries pass, he searches for his lost love and records his adventures and misadventures using the form of poetry known as haiku.
As Butten documents bloody wars, a certain tea party in Boston, living the high life during the Great Depression, two Woodstock festivals, the corruption of Emily Dickinson, and hanging out with Davy Crockett, he keeps to the classic 5-7-5 syllable structure of haiku. The resulting poems are hilarious, repulsive, oddly romantic, and bizarre.
Read along, and you just may find a new appreciation for – and insight into – various events in American history. And blood.
Earlier this year, Ana and I read and reviewed Ryan Mecum’s delightful Zombie Haiku – and we liked it so much, we of course responded with alacrity when he invited us to review his new poetic book, Vampire Haiku.
Like Zombie Haiku, Vampire Haiku is written entirely in a series of haiku (that’s a three line poem, with 5-7-5 syllables per line), but tells an overall story. This novel is the poetic journal of a man named William Butten, a translatlantic passenger on the good ship Mayflower in 1620. En route, William meets a lovely married woman named Katherine – who isn’t exactly what she seems, as becomes clear to William when she drinks his blood and turns him into a vampire. Over the next few centuries, the vampire William documents his adventures, his conquests, and his love for Katherine in his journal (all in haiku form, of course).
And what can I say? Mr. Mecum does it again with his winsome Vampire Haiku, capturing a slightly different interpretation of American history through a vampire’s eyes. This slim, glossy book comes in a cool package – the interior of the book, the accompanying illustrations, photographs and blood spatters are gorgeously composed – and the haiku are as fun as ever. A few favorites:
The syllable count
for “vampire” is confusing.
Two? Three? I’ll guess two.
Blood tastes like cherries
mixed with a lot of copper
and way too much salt.
When a mosquito
pierces my neck and drinks blood,
is that irony?
I just saw Twilight.
It’s labeled a vampire film,
but I don’t know why.
These were not vampires.
If sunlight makes you sparkle,
you’re a unicorn.
Even better than the humor, though, is the unrequited love story between William and his Katherine over the ages – it adds a touch of bittersweet heartache to the book.
Though I think I still prefer Zombie Haiku (as a zombie fan first and foremost, this is a – pardon the lameness of the pun – “no brainer”), Vampire Haiku is a wonderful little book, and another solid entry from Ryan Mecum. Perfect for a stocking stuffer, or for someone looking for a quick, quirky pick-me-up. Definitely recommended.
Rating: 6 – Good
I Am Scrooge: A Zombie Story for Christmas by Adam Roberts
Publisher: Gollancz (UK)
Publication Date: October 2009
Hardcover: 160 pages
Marley was dead. Again. The legendary Ebenezeer Scrooge sits in his house counting money. The boards that he has nailed up over the doors and the windows shudder and shake under the blows from the endless zombie hordes that crowd the streets hungering for his flesh and his miserly braaaaiiiiiinns! Just how did the happiest day of the year slip into a welter of blood, innards and shambling, ravenous undead on the snowy streets of old London town? Will the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future be able to stop the world from drowning under a top-hatted and crinolined zombie horde? Was Tiny Tim’s illness something infinitely more sinister than mere rickets and consumption? Can Scrooge be persuaded to go back to his evil ways, travel back to Christmas past and destroy the brain stem of the tiny, irritatingly cheery Patient Zero? It’s the Dickensian Zombie Apocalypse – God Bless us, one and all!
Since the wild success of Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies earlier this year (reviewed HERE), the taking of an established classic work of literature and zombifying it has become something of a trend. Adam Roberts’ I Am Scrooge: A Zombie Story for Christmas takes Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and twists it into something a little more…silly (and by “silly” I mean bloody, gorey, and brains-y).
The basic story is thus: Ebeneezer Scrooge, the miserliest of misers, he of the “bah humbugs,” turns out to be the only person in the world immune to the encroaching zombie plague (which he discovers after a re-animated Marley bites him on his backside). On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by three spirits (Present, Future and Past) for a specific purpose – to see the extent of the zombie plague, and to give him the motivation to stop it (by putting the maniacal mastermind behind the zombie outbreak to a preemptive death).
If you buy I Am Scrooge, you already know what you are getting into. This is a silly book that isn’t really about zombies as metaphor for human failings. It’s not George A. Romero. It’s not Kim Paffenroth or Robert Kirkpatrick. But, for what it is – a good, healthy dose of the ridiculous followed by a serving of Christmas Puddi-er-Brains – I Am Scrooge is wonderful. Mr. Roberts does not make the awkward mistake of trying to ape Charles Dickens’ prose (as Mr. Grahame-Smith attempted with Jane Austen), nor does he rely on A Christmas Carol too much. Instead, he takes the basic premise of the novel and writes a wry, brisk, slip of a book (it’s only 150 pages), that involves time travel, some famous author cameos, and the strategic location of Australia.
Add to that a sometimes-narrator that has fun with the english language, i.e:
‘Brains!’ moaned the beast, its arms flung wide as if in greeting. It writhed, slowly, jerkily, upon its wooden-knob of impalement. Of its impaling. Its impaleness. Of its Impellor.
Of its being impaled. Yes, I think that’s the right one.
…and you’ve got a party. I Am Scrooge is absurdism at its best – the final showdown will have you rolling your eyes, and yet strangely delighted. At least, I know I was delighted. I appreciated how off-the-wall silly this book was, and devoured it in a single sitting. It’s not War and Peace (or even A Christmas Carol) – but then again, it’s not meant to be. And for what it is, it rocks. Recommended, if you’re looking for silly, fast, and escapist. With brains.
Rating: 6 – Good
Reading Next: Raiders’ Ransom by Emily Diamand