Tuesday, August 12, 2014

BOOKSHELF: B.H. FINGERMAN'S "BOTTOMFEEDER"


Another vampire book. Hurray... So I thought when Bottomfeeder appeared in my Amazon recommendations, but the fact that it wasn't basking in popularity, was published by a small company, and only had 5 reviews  made me linger. When a book is too hyped, I tend to bypass it until the mania subsides, and after the Twilight phenomenon, I never wanted to see another vampire book again, tending to assume all of them were poorly written. But here was a guy working as a comic book artist/writer, deciding to take a crack at a full-length novel. The solid and rather colorful background of the author intrigued me, paving the way for something better than the standard tween fare of sparkles melodrama.

It's a pretty good read, though not in the gothic style of Stoker or Rice, and definitely not in any way similar to the nauseating scribbles of Stephenie Meyer. It takes place in present day, which is at once refreshing and alarming. Refreshing for those not enthused about the medieval spin and alarming because there isn't much in way of originality even with a modern backdrop. No matter how you cut it, the genre has run its course and cannot be revived as say, zombies. Zombie Apocalypse scenarios are selling better than ever (in film and TV at least). A Vampire Apocalypse doesn't have the same ring to it.  The best and most original "modern" take on the vampire genre was John Ajvide Lindqvist's Let the Right One In, but Bottomfeeder is nowhere as poignant or thought out. It is, however, crude, basic, and exceedingly adult. Just on language alone, this isn't a book for all ages. I like for strong language to be peppered throughout the work. When it draws attention to itself by its sheer quantity, the author is on the brink of loosing his audience. Too often writers mistake profanity for grit. 

The most off-putting aspect is its first person narration. I find this style somehow unprofessional unless you are explicitly reading a diary, and Bottomfeeder isn't structured as such. We follow the questionable escapades of a certain Phil Merman through a maze of New York City's underbelly, a 50-ish vampire turned at 27, who has yet to figure out how, why, or if there are others like him. Obviously, there are others, and when he finally happens upon them, he is taken deeper down the rabbit hole.

A reviewer said Bottomfeeder reads like a graphic novel without the illustrations. I'm inclined to agree. It feels as if the book should be supplemented by extra material, some sort of visual aid. That is to say, the heart of the work lies elsewhere, perhaps in an altogether different medium. Yet, there's a soft spot for Fingerman's storytelling, maybe in its micro, boutique quality that awakens a fellow writer's solidarity. In the arena of popular fiction it is forgettable, but in the way of finding an unfamiliar, alluring softcover in the far corner of your local book store, it's a promising treat.

No comments:

Post a Comment