January 8, 2009 | Comments ()

By Dustin Rowles | Books | January 8, 2009 |


I know the following papers may not make sense at first, but they have been arranged in a very specific order that will begin to make sense as they unfold.

1: From the journal of Robert

20 December, past midnight:

I fear I know not what to learn from Stoker’s Dracula. Am I to gain an understanding of how even mediocre literature can stand the test of time if the author manages to do one thing well? Is religious allegory worthy of this much praise in an otherwise average late-Gothic novel? That can’t be it.

I’m trapped in a web of interesting images with minimal pay off. The hoodlums across the street are eyeing up my house for another round of vandalism against excessive Christmas decorations, and I can’t say I blame them. But with the constant rapping, tapping, smacking at my front door how do I dig deeper into a century plus old narrative to find the juicy nougat of truth in its fiction? The dawn won’t break for hours yet, and this cursed white Ikea light is leaving me with a migraine. I must retire this post and pick it up later when light is on my side.

20 December, morning:

The yard made it through the night without any major destruction. The snow has left Mr. Scrooges hidden from the waist down in a blanket of pristine white, though the cracks are forming in the paint. Too bad a cross won’t stop wood from warping.

The novel really doesn’t move me all that much in the morning, either. I find it intriguing to revisit the work since it varies so much from the film adaptations with any merit at all. What director working in the Hollywood idiom would dare reveal that Count Dracula is a vampire with a seemingly endless series of lusty undead brides in the first five minutes as Stoker does in the first ten pages? It would be suicide.

Perhaps that’s the greater lesson here: don’t expose the villain too soon? But it can’t be. My favorite element of the novel is the immediate action. It drags here and there in the letters, but is mostly action, action, and more action. It’s not summary: it’s plot. How astonishing to see even a very plain prose style accomplish what most modern novelists struggle to do. A change of approach might benefit the examination.

2: Digital correspondence between Robert and his brother, Christopher

TrentSketch to BrotherofSketch, 9:45 AM, g-mail:

Dearest Brother,

I hope this e-mail finds you well. Thank you for linking me to that website with those international interpretations of fairy tales. It will be most helpful in the upcoming writing project.

My purpose for writing is not so cheerful, sadly. I remember you complaining non-stop about reading a novel called Dracula in high school. Perhaps you could help me reconcile my mediocre reaction to one of the most popular novels of the late Gothic period? I fear I’ll never quite understand the appeal.

Robert

PS: Grand Torino on Monday if the snow clears up? You know my car can’t safely travel on the road until they plow out the boonies.

Christopher to Robert, text message:

That boko is gay. Just wacth d movie :):):)

3: from Something Printed This Way Comes, a blog of Robert

20 December, post begun 10:30 pm EST:

My dearest readers,

I fear that I have learned nothing I didn’t already know from a reread of Dracula. The shifting narrative technique is novel, but means nothing if the voice never changes between characters.

Still, it is an engaging read. It’s like a popcorn flick: you don’t need you’re brain to get the message, but you’ll probably enjoy yourself regardless of its vapidity. There’s plenty of tension and haunting imagery that may be written plain but gets the job done.

Maybe there is a lesson in this. Literary fireworks are great, but who gives a damn if they don’t amount to anything? Page turning pop-lit may not be perceived as the most meritorious, yet it earns more money than serious literature for a good reason. It’s enjoyable. It’s fun. You feel good for finishing a book that isn’t that serious. Is a book that great if no one wants to read it?

Or the lesson is this: Christ. I really am a lit snob. If it’s not complex or very different, I’m probably not going to go crazy over it. That’s kind of sad. Hopefully I can force my way through some lighter books and have an easier time digesting them throughout the rest of Cannonball Read than I did here.

Pleasant dreams.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read series. Details are here and the participants and their blogs are here. And check here for more of Robert’s reviews.

drac4.jpg
100 Books in One Year: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Cannonball Read / Robert

Books | January 8, 2009 | Comments ()



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