Friday, June 22, 2012
The Old Head Splitter!
Inspired by the rather neat promos from the upcoming movie Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter I dug up a copy of this very popular pseudo biography by Seth Grahame-Smith. I've been reading a lot of Wold Newton stuff by Philip Farmer lately and this kind of blend of fact and fiction was just in my wheelhouse right now.
The book has a wonderful conceit, that Abraham Lincoln was not only the great man and statesman and president we know, but also a secret vampire hunter in an America rife with the plague of vampires who have come over from the old countries to try and find success in the New World. The way the biography of the sixteenth president is blended with the vampire lore is deftly handled.
The story begins when a mysterious man drops off a bundle of journals written by Abe Lincoln himself into the hands of idle writer wannabe Seth Grahame-Smith (putting himself into his own story is a trick worthy of Phil Farmer I must say) and what we get from then on is a blend of narrative and excerpts from the journals themselves.
The early material in particular moves back and forth between the two formats repeatedly and often many times on a page. I had some difficulty shifting from one voice to the other over and over, but this got better as I read.
We follow the whole history of Lincoln from a boy in Kentucky to a President in Ford's Theater. The secret history of the Civil War is revealed and we learn that Lincoln could split a hell of lot more than rails with his well-worn axe.
I found myself swept up in the story and especially liked the final sections dealing more with the larger history of the country.
I recommend this, but know it's a frothy entertainment. The movie likely is the same, though it seems to cast Honest Abe as something of a Buffy-type killer which isn't really in the book. When Abe chops up a vampire in the book, it's more like King Kull than the cheerleader.