Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Lair of the White Worm by Bram Stoker

Dracula. Okay, so, maybe it's a bit dated now, and maybe you do or don't like it. But, most people would admit it was at least a seminal novel of it's kind, that it was... you know. Not crap. Let's go with that, since I know thre are some who will have trouble even with this mild description. I know there are those who like it, and those who don't. I don't think it's perfect, myself, though it was a 'good ripping yarn' as they say.

So, when you're talking about the father of a genre, and you find a book you've never read by them, you enter with certain expectations. Oh, my friends. Release those expectations. This book, my dear ones, will not live up to them. No matter how low they are. If Mystery Science Theatre did books, this would be good fodder.

I would have liked to enjoy this book. Sure, within the first chapter, you have a protagonist who just sounds like a totally soulless person, meant to do nothing but play foil to everybody else in the story, but there was SOME interesting ideas in there. And then, inexplicably, halfway through the book it's like he got bored of writing the plot he was writing and started writing another one, about this big snake. The antagonist of the other plot ends up just sort of going crazy and electrocuting himself off-camera at the end. The snake on the other hand - and I'm not making this up, gets drowned by sand, struck by lightning and ignited with a whole bunch of dynamite, in a scene, where, and I know you don't think this is true, but really, you watch for several minutes as bits of snake flesh, blood and inexplicably, pieces of the woman that the snake could turn into blow up from a hole in the ground like a volcano. Way to go with the subtelty, Bram, my friend. Mix into this that we spend two thirds of the book hearing about how beautiful one good female character is, how kind and sweet, and then inexplicably end up having hte protagonist fall in love with her sister who we know next to nothing about, a terrifically bad stereotype of an African who is persistently referred to without any trace of irony as a 'nigger' holding all the inherently inferior evil, vanity, and power-lust of all Africans, you know (I just kept waiting for this to turnabout and have him end up not being as nasty as everyone assumed, but he was), an enormous semi-magical kite that ends up having no real purpose in the story, and an invasion of birds that never even gets resolved... oh, and? When they blow an enormous hole in the ground, it ends up uncovering an enormous cache of china clay, so they can be rich, forever. Sigh... I'm missing so much. It was really, really, really bad. Anyway you look at it. REally. Don't read it. I beg of you. There is such badness in this book it will imbue you, as it has me, with a new measure of badness, that is impossible to shake off. And the vision of a volcano of sand and snake guts, which really, does anyone need to be subjected to?

My personal favorite line:

(after Adam tells the wise old friend that he plans to blow the snake to bits with enough dynamite to blow up a skyscraper)

"That seems a good plan, a very excellent one. But if it has to tear down so many feet of precipice, it may wreck the whole neighborhood..."

"And free it forever from a monster!"

Sorry about, like, blowing up your homes, oh, and killing all of you, I guess, but on the bright side, I've freed you forever from a monster!

8 comments:

Jen said...

Wow this one sounds like a train wreck. You're reviews always crack me up, though.

Jen said...

"your", not "you're"

Amanda said...

Jen, I perfectly agree with you! Wow.

Rebecca Reid said...

WOW. sounds so good I'm adding it to my RIP list. Not.

Jason Gignac said...

Ms Reid.
Show some respect.
This is a classic.

Amanda said...

Jason, if it was a classic, you'd have tagged it that way...

Jason Gignac said...

Oversight corrected. Thanks for pointing it out! :)

Amanda said...

You know, back when you wrote this originally, you told me you left off "classic literature" for a reason...