Christopher Moore Strikes Again!

Ever since I read Lamb (The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal), which is an absolutely brilliant book and not nearly as silly as it sounds, I've been a big fan of Moore's books. Last week when I was down with a four-day migraine, I pulled myself out of it - literally - by laughing my head off over his sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends : A Love Story (the first of his vampire books, written in 1995).
You Suck: A Love Story picks up where Bloodsucking Fiends left off - well, the next evening, that is. If you haven't read the first one, I won't spoil it for you, because the second one is more fun if you've gotten to know the characters by reading the first one first. They are an absolute hoot when read together, and I highly recommend this, particularly if you haven't read any Christopher Moore before.

I was exaggerating slightly when I credited You Suck with having cured my migraine; actually, laughing hard at every other page was quite painful, but once I'd begun reading I could not stop. So it was at least a diversion from the pain. They are both very clever, witty and just plain hilarious books, the sequel outdoing the original in humor (when was the last time you found a sequel that was even better than the first book?). Go read them.

I've been reading a lot of vampire books lately. Just finished the latest Maryjanice Davidson, Undead and Uneasy, which was amusing, but not up to her earlier standard of laugh-out-loud uproariously funny, so that was a bit disappointing. Still, the Wyckham werewolf pack arrived in Minneapolis for the adventure, which was interesting.
I have almost caught up with the Laurell K. Hamilton Anita Blake series. I think I have another 3-4 of those to read before The Harlequin, which just came out last week. Her website has a cute excuse form that you can download ("please excuse _______ from school/work/event/other as The Harlequin debuted on June 5th and they needed the time off to read it. Possibly more than once."). Her books are quite dark, and partway through the series took a startling turn than caused some of her readers to stop reading the books (and complain bitterly). I waited to see at what point I might feel offended or fed up, but so far it hasn't happened; there's a lot of darkness, but nothing that does not move the plot along, and I find them fascinating, though I wouldn't recommend them to everyone.
Another series I enjoy is P.N. Elrod's Jack Fleming Vampire Files series. She has a couple of other series as well, but the descriptions haven't appealed to me. Jack was turned into a vampire and has taken up detective work, which suits his vampiric condition admirably; he can do it at night, and can use his ability to vaporize to get in & out of locked rooms to investigate or get out of tight spots. They are entertaining mysteries in a sort of Dashiel Hammett style, quite different from all the others I read.
I can't end this discussion of vampire books without mentioning Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse series. Beginning with Dead Until Dark, this was the first vampire series I ever read, and is still my favorite.
I know precisely what drew me to Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books, and I'm a little ashamed to admit it, because it seems like such a shallow thing, but it was the cover. It was all sparkly & comical - it just looked fun! So I tried the first one & loved it, and got drawn into her world. After that, it was easy to become curious about how other authors treated vampires and the vampire "condition," not always as an evil being but as a curse or a disease. For example, Jack Fleming (P.N. Elrod) woke up one evening as a vampire. He doesn't want to be a vampire. He doesn't want to drink human blood, so he doesn't - but I'll let you read the books for yourself and see how he solves that problem. He's a very good guy, but naturally there are plenty of people who don't believe that.

Anita Blake (Laurell K. Hamilton) starts out as a badass vampire hunter, convinced that all vampires are evil. Slowly, as the books progress, her view begins to change, and she worries that she is becoming as bad as the "monsters" herself. This is one of the primary themes of the series, and Hamilton keeps the tension up brilliantly.

As I teach Comparative Religion, I find the theme of good and evil riveting. And I'm always up for a ripping good yarn!


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