Saturday, January 6, 2007


Continuing with in a liquidy theme, I just finished reading Thirsty by M.T. Anderson. Sieur Anderson's most recent book, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, just won the National Book Award (Huzzah), but Thirsty, his first book, is where it all began.

Thirsty is a coming-of-age novel, full of teenage angst, confusion and disgust. But unlike--say Catcher in the Rye-- the book's hero, Chris, is turning not into a teenager--but into a Vampire. And since Vampires are feared, hated and executed on television in the town where Chris lives, this transformation really really sucks. (!!)

Thirsty follows Chris as he fights his passions with his intellect, struggles to sublimate his desires of the flesh to his desires of the heart, and tries to save his fellow townspeople from the threat of Tch'muchgar, the Vampire Lord, who is about to escape from his unearthly prison. After a thousand years banishment, The Vampire Lord is thirsty, too. Very thirsty. Throw in the clueless parents, the jerky best friends, one of whom is actually named Jerk, a perky Being of Light, a gorgeous geeky girl, and a dog named Bongo, and Chris's life is a mess. There--don't you feel better about your own messy life now? At least you aren't sprouting fangs or fighting the desire to eat the family dog.

Now I must say that Sieur Anderson has a way of tossing in juxtapositions that just tickle me magenta. Chris's world is exactly like ours except for the vampires, and the ordinary manner in which the vampires fit into his world is quite charming. When Chris attends a vampire potluck held, he is offered an array of casseroles, but instead of tuna and chicken, the meat is actually Jennifer Carreiras & Dave Philips. Dave is garnished with broccoli & Jenn with a special cornflake crust. Alas, for me that I found this sort of detail charming, but so I did. If there were real vampires in this world and they were having a pot luck, of course, they would have human casserole garnished with cornflake crust. (Unless that particular vampire's mother always used chow mein noodles instead.) (You may note that vampires don't traditionally eat their victims--trust me, Sieur Anderson is ahead of that criticism and has provided a Clever Explanation, so you can save your breath.) Other charming details: a White Hen Pantry built on a ritual site, and they are sacrificing virgins in Boston, and vampire executions shown on tv. All hilariously described, and yet...unsettlingly horrifying, too.

But Chris' real problem is his growing thirst.

How he deals with this thirst leads up to a powerful conclusion that avoids sappy easy answers and an unrealistic deus ex machina (out of the blue) ending.

My one complaint: I wish there had been more Bongo. But then I always wish there was more Dog, and a Dog named Bongo is a double-whammy--irresistible

"Darkly humourous or humourously dark--take your pick."---The Alta Califa Literary Revue.

"Make mine a double. Stirred, not shaken."--- The Calo Res Jump Up.

"A salivating start to a mouthwatering career."---The Ariviapa Rattler.

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