Sometimes the concept is great but the results disappoint. Those who have followed this blog know that a unifying concept over the past half-year has been the often hidden relationship between religion and monsters. Certainly this fascination has its roots in my refusal to admit that I’ve grown up, but with the popular media pushing the undead into our collective consciousness on a daily basis I feel a happy vindication. I posted last week about Seth Grahame-Smith’s new book, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Well, now that I’ve finished the book I would say that the jarring concept of our most honored president leading a secret life was fun to wrestle with, but the book failed to win me.
Lincoln’s great contribution to our nation is still echoing through a society slow to admit the equality of all. Perhaps that fact alone would render any book trying to throw some comic relief on a deadly serious issue mute before it even begins to spin its yarn. That, and I didn’t like the portrayal of the vampires. I’m no undead purist, and I’m aware that vampires have changed form and character over the centuries, but having masses of them in one place felt like being the proverbial cat-shepherd. Giving them political ambitions, with a nod to Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, was too much. The issue of slavery, clearly the metaphor being utilized by Grahame-Smith, is hard to smile about. Lincoln’s personal suffering is difficult to lighten with his career as a vampire hunter. The story just didn’t work.
I’ve had enough bumps in my own life to eschew easy categorization. Even my current career must be listed in the TBD category. Nevertheless, I wasn’t sure if what I was reading was a serious attempt at a novel or a humorous exploration of a funny idea. I found the book catalogued in humor, but its narrative seems to have the earnestness of a determined novelist. When the story ended I felt as if I’d read a dime-store novel I’d purchased at Comedy Central. And with the headlines the way they are these days, I’d been hoping for a good laugh. Instead it seems that I have been bitten by a vampire wearing shades.