Who’s that knocking?

April 10, 2009

vampire-power-1One of my literary disappointments was Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula,” which I thought was one of the clumsiest works of fiction I had ever read. I came to it sort of in mid life. I read more non-fiction than fiction, but when I finally got around to Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” I was enthralled, and I naively thought I’d have a similar experience with “Dracula.” It was not to be. The book is awkwardly written with unnatural dialogue and none of the philosophical depth of Shelley’s work. Of course, the idea that Stoker’s work should have any of those qualities originated only in my own mind, so I suppose I was disappointed more by myself than by the writer. 

Maybe it was because of that experience that I find myself on the outside looking in at the current fascination with vampires, especially among young people. Obviously, I’m missing something. NPR this week ran a review by John Powers about a Swedish film “Let the Right One In,” that was intriguing. Powers calls it “the best vampire movie in the last 75 years.” It had only limited release but is now available on DVD, which was the occasion for the review. The principal characters in this film are a 12-year-old boy who is alienated from his parents and rejected – even tormented – by his schoolmates, and his new next-door-neighbor, the lonely girl Eli, who has been 12 years old for the past 200 years. Their mutual isolation draws them together into a relationship that apparently succeeds artistically on several levels.

It was a coincidence that I happened to hear that review, because vampires have been on my mind for several weeks, since we heard Michael Smith give a concert in Morristown. One of the songs he performed that night was “Vampire,” and it’s been churning around in my mind ever since:

Your life’s too short and love is gone too soon
Come with me and fly the dark of moon, the dark of moon,
Life’s not life if you must lose it
Death’s not death if you refuse it
Who can blame you
If you choose the vampire
Forever young
Forever young

As with most of Michael’s songs, this one means far more when you hear him deliver it – plaintive, chilling, moving.

Excuse me. I think I hear someone at the door.


Michael Smith’s lyrics: http://www.artistsofnote.com/michael/lyrics/vampire.shtml

NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102909283&ft=1&f=1008