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Posts tagged ‘Elizabeth Kostova’

Just a Bit More Than Usual

I thought it was a good day to sit back and think just how many things I have gotten myself into for the month of November and muse over the fact about why do I take on more than I can manage and why do I keep making myself a guinea-pig for all Sadistic Gods who take great pleasure in laughing at me – considering there is no one else to blamed for the soup I get myself into except ME!!

Therefore without further ado, let’s all sit back, put our feet up and review my projects for this month, and please feel free to choose a drink of your choice – tea, coffee or something stronger. I now am feeling a strong tendency for something stronger (wringing my hands! I think there should be a smiley for wringing hands and wordpress should have a smiley drop down!)

The list does not reflect any order of preference or importance

  1. The Project Manager side of me has to pull off two projects before month end which means minimum 16 hrs at work.
  2. I am again (woe is me!) attempting NaNoWriMo so 50,000 words in one month, 11669 words a week, 1667 words a day – piece of cake!!
  3. I have also enrolled myself for the MOOC – Plagues, Witches and War (Thank You Stefanie!!!). While I love the class and it’s a lot of intellectual gymnastics and makes the academic me very happy, It is an intensive course with exhaustive reading and fast paced courses and while Unit 3 is already posted I am struggling to finish Unit 1 (Running to catch up and do it fast; but kind of difficult when hyperventilating)
  4. Social commitments – every weekend for the next 3 weeks is booked. Plans made way earlier and committed without a thought and now we pay the price. Dinners, weekend trips and more dinners. Of course, one cannot back out of any for the fear of offending; besides I really do like most of these people whom I had made plans with and besides it’s not their fault if I DO NOT THINK BEFORE I LEAP!!
  5. The reading list – My flatmate gifted me (no reason! She is just generous) J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of Rings Trilogy and The Hobbit. How in the world could I resist that? My sister also decided that she was fond of me and bought me Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries and Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowlands. In between, because I had no idea everybody will suddenly start gifting me, that too nearly two full months before my birthday, I bought myself Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter Trilogy, Willa Cather’s My Antonia and Arnold Bennett The Grand Babylon Hotel.  Of all the months, this month I had to win Penguin’s First to Read effort and now I have to read and then post a review for Being Josephine by Heather Webb. I am not even getting into the re-readings that I do like Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova which I do for fun or the novels I have to read for my MOOC!

There, life could not be simpler!!!! I mean really except for my day job, no body compelled me to take on all these tasks at one go…..I just decided to bring all of this on myself! All the best to me!!!

P.S. I can hear the Gods laughing as I type!

Deliver us from another Vampire Tale

The other day I was browsing at a bookshop and a woman walked in. Without being prejudiced, I have to confess that one look at her and you know she is one of those anorexic-fake blonde-fake Gucci girls. What was surprising was that she was in a bookstore! I mean did she confuse herself with the Zara Boutique next door? But the mystery was soon resolved as she whipped out her designer phone (Lord! Save me from white phones with Swarovski diamonds or Crystal or whatever white bloody stone) and screeched into it “Hey can you tell me the name of the book you mentioned? You know the Vampire love story thing!!”

Now I know…..

I want to understand this madness or rather this obsession behind Vampire literature. Every week when I enter my favourite book shop, the owner though well versed in my taste will show me at least one new release with a Vampire as its protagonists. When I do online book buying, the top sellers are all Vampire tales and the bimbo at work who cannot articulate a single thought (too much stress on her brain…doubt she knows the word articulate!) has read the god dammed Twilight series!

Somebody please explain the reason behind all this insanity.

Bram Stoker wrote the Dracula in 1897 and it became an instant success and prevented Mr Stroker from dying of ignominy or worse as being only known as actor Henry Irvin’s PA. It’s a great tale told in first person’s accounts via letters, memos and dairy entries. Without descending into morbid obscenity or maudlin sentiments, the book manages to create a sense of paralyzing terror. I recommend it to all avid readers of terror/vampire genre. But that’s where the buck stops! Or atleast it extends very little after that!! I will extend it to I am Legend by Richard Matheson published in 1954 (Yes! This was a novel well before Will Smith and friends turned it into whatever they turned it into!). Set in futuristic Los Angeles ruled by vampires, the protagonist, himself a vampire tries to find a cure to reverse the phenomena of bloodsucking. One of the finest Gothic tale meets science fiction novels that I have read. The last of the Vampire book that I recommend is The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova published in 2005. It’s a thriller, a marvellous travelogue covering the Eastern Europe, a historical fiction and most importantly a serious and  intellectual work of literature. The novel follows the life of the narrator’s father, her father’s mentor and her mother in the quest of Vlad Tepes. But this is seriously where the buck stops!!

I mean there are these unending publications of I do not know how many Vampire novels. There is Ann Rice and her Interviews with Vampires and Pandoras. To give her credit, she was one the pioneers in the twenty-first century Vampire genre, but that’s where the credit ends. They are so maudlin with zilch element of intellect or horror. Speaking of maudlin, who can forget the “Twilight” series! I mean if somebody gave me a penny for the times I barfed through the through 400+ pages of soppy writing and the never-ending saga of Bella Swan will be/will not be a vampire for Edward Cullen, I would be a millionaire! Thank Heavens! I stopped reading the darn thing after the first book. Yuck! Yuck and more super yuck! Then somebody decided to go ahead and get a Vampire to fall in love with a witch! Oh! Give me a break!! Deborah Harkness in her Discovery of Witches manages a very wanna-be The Historian feel with Oxford University and a protagonist with a Ph.D and a rare book, but that’s about it. It goes on and on about what happens when a Vampire marries a witch and the powers binding the witch and this and that and yawn!!! In these series, we have not spared Lord Byron either, just because he lived in the Orient and wrote The Giagour! It’s weird enough that his physician, John Polidori wrote The Vampyre in 1816 basing the principal character and vampire, Lord Ruthven on Lord Byron, but someone had go ahead and re-invent the whole wheel. If you want stereotyped history mixed with liberal dose of boring with zero horror quotient, please read Tom Holland’s The Vampyre: The Secret History of Lord Byron.

So my question remains – what is the big deal about Vampire literature? Most of them are just a pure waste of time, but more importantly why do readers and writers alike insist on romanticizing them. I mean, hello! The original inspiration for a vampire was Vlad III of Wallachia, who was known to impale his enemies alive and other such cruelties! Not nice and definitely not romantic!

Vampires are folklores and I can live with some solid horror tales about them. But beyond them…No! No! In the words of Brian Lumley, “But other vampire stories? Well, no, I really haven’t read too many, and I can’t say I’m crazy about romantic vampires anyway – to me the vampire is simply an evil monster.”

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