This post is part of the book review blog chain. The previous post is [Review: "Equus"] and the next post is [Review: Dewey].
When asked to post a review of the book I loved, I decided to talk about Running Dry. A full review of the book can be found here on my personal blog. The executive summary is that Doud and a female friend are involved in a chase-slash-road trip-slash-memoir dealing with a monster who is tracking Doud down.
The story, to be honest, is no longer all that clear in my memory. But to me the idea of the vampire is not about the plot, or even about the character, is is about the dilemma. You see Doud is also a monster, the same kind of life-force sucking monster as the man that is hunting him--the only difference is that he has a conscience.
When it comes to vampires it seems that there are two main camps. Some people like horror with the vampire as the cursed, evil monster. Some people like romance or adventure with the vampire as the handsome hero with supernatural superpowers. But, to me, both of these concepts completely miss the essence of the modern vampire.
And by modern I mean over the last 150 years or so. You see it in Varney, Dracula, Carmilla... the vampire is a deadly, ambiguous, baffling combination of of libido and thanatos. He (or she) can be powerful, seductive, influential and irresistible--and in equal parts vulnerable to simple light or water, hideous, soulless and murderous. The best vampire stories to me are about trying to resolve that enigma.
M Christian rediscovers this storyline from the point of view of the vampire who tries not to abuse his powers, and who tries not to harm others. But Doud cannot help reaching out to others any more than he can avoid destroying them, and that is the theme that turns yet another adventure story into a new vampire classic. That is why, more than two years later, I chose to revisit this book from hundreds of vampire tomes I have read, and in most cases forgotten.
This book struggles with the essential conflict at the heart of the vampire archetype and does not evade or glibly resolve the unavoidable tragedy that flows from the contradictions of undeath.