Rants & Raves

By Lynne Murray

Vampire novels come in a variety of flavors these days. The modern classic, Anne Rice's anguished vampire, has branched off.  There are the blood-hungry aliens in Brian Lumley's Necroscope books.  We have Laurel K. Hamilton's hypersexual vampires (who frequently moonlight as strippers or prostitutes), Poppy Z. Bright's dark underworld of gay or omnisexual vampires.  There are now even vampire romances, vampire "chick lit" and vampire mysteries, such as Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mystery Series.

Andrew Fox's hero in Fat White Vampire Blues doesn't fit into any of the above slots.  The series is set in New Orleans, but the writing cycles between realistic and horror comic excess.

Some have objected to anti-hero Jules Duchon.  Unlike so many vampires, he has no aspirations to aristocracy—in fact, the more upscale local vampires snub him.  He's a 450-pound, uneducated (except for comic books), white, New Orleans native—cabdriver and vampire.  Jules is unsophisticated (except in his gourmet palate, which he can only exercise through the blood of his victims) and his taste for jazz.  His views are the views you would expect from a working class white man born and raised in New Orleans in the early 1900s. Over the past 100 years there have been a lot of changes in the neighborhood, and he's having trouble adapting.

I think some readers never get past the first chapter of Fat White Vampire Blues; although it's quite well written, it's shocking and compelling.  Jules first wines and dines and then kills a homeless black woman.  The next chapter throws him into a life or death battle with a gang of black vampires who don't appreciate his poaching on their community.  Usually vampire fiction doesn't deal quite so grittily with the life styles of the undead and predatory.

There's less gore (and a lot more humor) in Fox's books than you'll find in an Anne Rice or a Laurel K. Hamilton vampire story.  But I think it's not the blood that has freaked some readers out, but the combination of a lower-class, fat, politically incorrect white vampire.  But, for all his crudeness, Jules is dealing with a guilty conscience about how he keeps himself alive, and the way he copes is an important part of the story.

I liked Fat White Vampire Blues a lot, and I enjoyed the sequel, Bride of the Fat White Vampire, even more.  Fox brings back characters from the first book, even when it seems impossible.  It also lovingly echoes and pays tribute to a whole host of classic monster movies (including Bride of Frankenstein), and rounds off a plus-sized love story.  Every thread was neatly tied up at the end, with some unexpected twists that worked very well to my mind. 

More information on Andrew Fox's work is at http://www.andrewfoxbooks.com/andrewfox.htm

Buy these books at Powell's


© Lynne Murray