abraham lincoln: vampire hunter [2 of 2]

The first part of this mess is here. SPOILERS for both the book & the movie (which I didn’t finish watching) (it was extremely terrible), and also I assume you know who all the characters are —

First Criticism: Henry Sturges is obviously in love with Abe. This is a completely reasonable reaction for Henry to have, based on the available evidence, but the book makes his deep, unspoken love the soul of the story — there is no other logical explanation for Henry’s blind & savage devotion to Lincoln, and Henry’s blind & savage devotion to Lincoln is the device which powers the plot — and then does absolutely nothing whatever with it. Disappoint.

Second Criticism: In this text, the carnivorous urges of vampires are clearly meant to stand in for the feudal inclinations of the Old World (by which I mean “Europe,” which is the Old World as far as Americans are concerned) — there is, for instance, a mass exodus of vampires to the newborn colonies during the era of the witch-hunt, & this represents the commencement of the American bloodbath with which Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter concerns itself. Also, the novel’s secondary protagonist, Henry Sturges, epitomizes the European gentleman flawlessly in both his irrational, aesthetic love of the arts and his compromised morality (although he is not specifically an aristocrat by birth; it is vampirism that makes a Man of him). Much of the story’s dramatic scenery is built upon Sturges’s choice to dedicate all of his considerable strength to Honest Abe’s homely faith in justice, rather than investing it in the easy, evil power of his fellow vampires. However, Grahame-Smith (the author; sorry) distances himself from any ultimate statement about human, historical, or supernatural evil by making sure that American slavery remains a wholly human enterprise, and in the end the novel itself contradicts its own high-concept premise. Why bother to append “Vampire Hunter” to “Abraham Lincoln” at all, if you aren’t planning to conflate the mawkish myth of romantic, effete vampires who can live forever off the blood of unexciting ordinary people, with the American slaveholders who nourished their own unnatural way of life upon the blood of slaves who had been achingly, systematically dehumanized over centuries — and then use Lincoln’s historical legacy to do violence to both of them? I assumed that Lincoln's vampires would have been characterized as both social and carnal predators who applied their Continental disdain for the peasantry to the incoming cargo of African-American slaves, making of their privileged exsanguinations a physical, action-movie metaphor. But that didn't happen, at all. It was as if Grahame-Smith wanted to avoid offending America's historical racists. The novel had no real thesis beyond, “There were scary vampires… and also: slavery! One of those things actually happened! But which one???” In the end, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter looked more like a satire than either a proper supernatural adventure or a twisted-history novel, and not even a very elegant one at that.

Third Criticism: Vampires are closely aligned with homosexuality — example: Edgar Allen Poe (who is himself attached to an annoying-but-invisible vampire companion), in one of his sad and pointless expository appearances, regales Abe with the story of Elizabeth Báthory, a murderous lesbian (perhaps) sadist and pedigreed vampire from Hungary — but then, except for a single grisly scene in which two vampires are depicted obscenely nursing blood from the breast of a black female slave, the entire question of sexuality re: vampirism (its oldest usage, certainly) is ignored. See also Criticism #1.

Fourth Criticism: MLK is turned into a vampire at the end of the book, for absolutely no visible fucking reason. It would’ve been quite painful, if the book had been of any consequence at all. Also I find the existence of, say, the Stormfront website, to defy even the hypothetical suggestion that Martin Luther King, Jr. still walks among us. Even for three seconds in a bad novel.

Fifth Criticism: The worst movie, with the worst acting, that I have ever seen in my entire life. One of the characters was Abe’s best black childhood friend, whom he clearly obviously had. The character was played by Anthony Mackie, which is nice, but he was the worst and the most pointless addition to an already overstuffed cast that you can possibly imagine. Very bad acting, also, I don’t know if I mentioned that. I shut the thing off when, during one of the interminable and badly-choreographed action sequences, one guy hit another guy in the head with a real, living horse (a CGI horse, in fact) (but you know what I mean).

On the other hand, the novel itself was most memorably characterized by the engaging and youthful voice of its third-party narrator, and near the end of the story Grahame-Smith began to prove himself a pretty excellent historical anecdotalist. Maybe next time he can just write a regular history book (for teenagers) and see how that turns out?

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Novel: D+
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Movie: F-

edroso
edroso:

Northeast D.C.

In which my laser-like nerd acumen detected the chance for a quote:


  When Syme went out into the starlit street, he found it for the moment empty. Then he realised (in some odd way) that the silence was rather a living silence than a dead one. Directly outside the door stood a street lamp, whose gleam gilded the leaves of the tree that bent out over the fence behind him. About a foot from the lamp-post stood a figure almost as rigid and motionless as the lamp-post itself. The tall hat and long frock coat were black; the face, in an abrupt shadow, was almost as dark. Only a fringe of fiery hair against the light, and also something aggressive in the attitude, proclaimed that it was the poet Gregory. He had something of the look of a masked bravo waiting sword in hand for his foe.
  
  He made a sort of doubtful salute, which Syme somewhat more formally returned.
  
  "I was waiting for you," said Gregory. "Might I have a moment’s conversation?"
  
  "Certainly. About what?" asked Syme in a sort of weak wonder.
  
  Gregory struck out with his stick at the lamp-post, and then at the tree.
  
  "About this and this," he cried; "about order and anarchy. There is your precious order, that lean, iron lamp, ugly and barren; and there is anarchy, rich, living, reproducing itself — there is anarchy, splendid in green and gold."
  
  "All the same," replied Syme patiently, "just at present you only see the tree by the light of the lamp. I wonder when you would ever see the lamp by the light of the tree." Then after a pause he said, "But may I ask if you have been standing out here in the dark only to resume our little argument?”


 — G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday

edroso:

Northeast D.C.

In which my laser-like nerd acumen detected the chance for a quote:

When Syme went out into the starlit street, he found it for the moment empty. Then he realised (in some odd way) that the silence was rather a living silence than a dead one. Directly outside the door stood a street lamp, whose gleam gilded the leaves of the tree that bent out over the fence behind him. About a foot from the lamp-post stood a figure almost as rigid and motionless as the lamp-post itself. The tall hat and long frock coat were black; the face, in an abrupt shadow, was almost as dark. Only a fringe of fiery hair against the light, and also something aggressive in the attitude, proclaimed that it was the poet Gregory. He had something of the look of a masked bravo waiting sword in hand for his foe.

He made a sort of doubtful salute, which Syme somewhat more formally returned.

"I was waiting for you," said Gregory. "Might I have a moment’s conversation?"

"Certainly. About what?" asked Syme in a sort of weak wonder.

Gregory struck out with his stick at the lamp-post, and then at the tree.

"About this and this," he cried; "about order and anarchy. There is your precious order, that lean, iron lamp, ugly and barren; and there is anarchy, rich, living, reproducing itself — there is anarchy, splendid in green and gold."

"All the same," replied Syme patiently, "just at present you only see the tree by the light of the lamp. I wonder when you would ever see the lamp by the light of the tree." Then after a pause he said, "But may I ask if you have been standing out here in the dark only to resume our little argument?”

— G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday

It’s a fact as immutable as the Third Law of Sod that there is no such thing as a good Grand Vizier. A predilection to cackle and plot is apparently part of the job spec.

High priests tend to get put in the same category. They have to face the implied assumption that no sooner do they get the funny hat than they’re issuing strange orders, e.g., princesses tied to rocks for itinerant sea monsters and throwing little babies in the sea.

This is a gross slander. Throughout the history of the Disc most high priests have been serious, pious and conscientious men who have done their best to interpret the wishes of the gods, sometimes disembowelling or flaying alive hundreds of people in a day in order to make sure they’re getting it absolutely right.

Terry Pratchett, Pyramids

I think the world just broke.

Nobody’s fault. Things get old. They go funny. They get stuck like a pump or run backwards like a pocketwatch. You just try and use an old pistol that ain’t been looked after. It might click and whine and stick. It might blow you clean dead.

Catherynne M. Valente, The Shoot-Out at Burnt Corn Ranch Over the Bride of the World, from The Bread We Eat in Dreams
Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of the world. We see everything from behind, and it looks brutal. That is not a tree, but the back of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud. Cannot you see that everything is stooping and hiding a face? If we could only get round in front—
G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday
waitingforrelease
For, as the wise say, a sensible man looks after his garden, and a coward looks after his money; a just man cares about his city and a crazy man cares about the government; and a wise man studies the thickness of fern-fronds. — Angelica Gorodischer, Kalpa Imperial, trans. Ursula K. Le Guin

For, as the wise say, a sensible man looks after his garden, and a coward looks after his money; a just man cares about his city and a crazy man cares about the government; and a wise man studies the thickness of fern-fronds. — Angelica Gorodischer, Kalpa Imperial, trans. Ursula K. Le Guin

This is directed toward the three of you who actually know me and/or care about what I think! Everyone else can go back to reblogging sad pictures of snowy highways immediately. I started a book blog yesterday, hooray for me. I’m going to post about The Quincunx this Sunday, so you will definitely want to catch that if you are among the microscopic minority of people who like me and enjoy the prose stylings of Charles Palliser (possibly just ohveda).

rnermaid-motel

invisiblechickens:

read and hold a book however the fuck you want. crease it, bend it, flex it, crack the spine, fold the pages. reading is meant to be a joy, and you should be able to read the words. love the book and it will love you back. if some ass is giving you shit by telling you not to fold the book over when reading, hit them in the face with that book.

also please stop giving me shit about reading on my little ipad and e-mailing me that dick article about the smell of books and its resemblance to vanilla extract and how basking in the bibliotrophic stench makes you a morally superior person. if you want to hoard books like a fucking freak who never got over flunking out of grad school, go for it, but dusty, moldy old books give me asthma attacks. i’ll cart my own library around on an sd card, and if i want your advice on the correct way to live i’ll ask for it. #BETTY HAD SOME BITTER BUTTER