This book is actually a slim volume containing two longish short stories – one from Michael Marshall Smith and one from Kim Newman. I bought it for the Smith one but have just finished both and so I’m including it in my 25 books list.
It’s hard to know what to say about this story. It’s about a guy living in the Florida Keys who hires himself out as a kind of hostage negotiator for a very particular kind of ‘kidnappings’ as he refers to them (you’ll probably know them by another phrase).
The main character is engaging – he’s one of those ultra-competent macho men that are up to any challenge. He’s not as entertaining as Stark – my favourite Smith character from Only Forward, but that would be a tall order. It’s fun and quirky and doesn’t take itself too seriously, though it’s not an outright comedy either. Worth checking out if you’re a fan or a Smith completist.
Andy Warhol’s Dracula
This is a vampire story set in the late 70s. It mixes a straight-forward narrative with excerpts from an academic paper on the life and work of Andy Warhol – who was a vampire. Or at least in this alternate world he was.
Considering that I’m such a huge fan of Buffy you might find it odd that I generally avoid vampire fiction whether in movie, TV or book form. There’s just so much of it and so much of it isn’t that original. Given that, and given that I didn’t really care for the interruptions to the story that the academic paper provides, I was a little surprised to find myself won over by this. Even more so because the writing generally was so ‘busy’ – the exact opposite of the kind of spare, simple prose I think I like. Florid descriptions and colourful word-pictures abounded.
In the end though it had an engaging main character and an intriguing concept. Johnny Pop is a vampire who at the outset kills a punk girl Nancy and frames her drug-addled boyfriend Sid for it. The story goes on to chart his rise in the 70s nightlife of New York as he creates the drug ‘drac’ which is a form of powdered vampire blood that allows you to feel the rush of being a nosferatu for a night.
This is an alternate reality where not only do vampires exist and are widely known about, almost accepted, but also is peopled with a wide variety of characters from fiction and celebrities from our world. I guess it makes sense – Warhol is someone who made art using figures from popular culture, someone who arguably ‘fed’ off the celebrity of others, and so it’s fitting that in this world where he’s a literal vampire we bump into Travis Bickle and Tony Manero , as well as Blondie, Sid and Nancy and a whole host of others.
Spotting the references was fun – I had to look up a couple and I’m sure there’s ones I missed – but in the end it was the story that pulled me through. I did want to know what happened next.