I have a thing about voices. I’ll spare you the details because there is no way saying something like, “Have you ever met a person whose voice hits the wrong part of your brain? And you would do anything to make them stop talking forever?” doesn’t offend someone, so I won’t say it. Instead, I’ll focus on the things people say.
I get my hair trimmed pretty regularly. Partially because my hair grows quickly, but mostly because there are few sensations better than having your hair washed by someone else. When I sit in the salon, I often wonder if people realize what words are coming out of their mouths? During my most recent salon visit, I was surrounded by the absurd, irate, and offensive.
One person was talking to someone about whether avocados or potatoes were the fruit of the decade, which legitimately had me thinking that I was dead and this was a test to decide the fate of my soul. Were I not distracted by another conversation, The Dark Side would have won.
The second conversation involved a woman complaining about the sleeping arrangements at a destination wedding in Paris. She had to share a balcony free room with her boyfriend’s sister. She called it discrimination. Perhaps, someone should organize a march for her. Call it Justice for the Entitled.
The conversation to my left made me nostalgic. It was a grandmother raging against a granddaughter who wore combat boots to her debutante ball. I silently saluted the granddaughter, one combat boot wearing debutante to another.
None of the conversations matter as much as the one that happened between two women waiting for a five-year-old to finish getting her hair dyed blue. It was offensive. The conversation not the hair. They referenced the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer as “brilliant . . . the actual birth of the vampire genre . . . and a real step forward for feminism.” I’m going to pause here so you can laugh or puke or puke while laughing. Those are the only acceptable options. And I’m not even going to offer to fight anyone over my strong and unwavering belief that the Twilight series is an absolute abomination that elevates sociopathic stalker tendencies as romance, victimizes women in order to characterize men as heroes, plays angsty teenage selfishness as empowerment, equates sex outside of marriage with cultish bloodletting, demonstrates how not to sensitively portray indigenous people, and abuses to a criminal level adverbs and adjectives. Usually I’m down for a fight, but honestly, if you’re over 25 and disagree, you just aren’t worthy of me pulling my hair up into a ponytail and stretching. Not to mention, you are wrong.
If you love the Twilight series, love it, own it, but at least acknowledge its faults, failings, and shortcomings. We all love trashy things from time to time. You don’t need to put the ugly dog in a dress to justify your love. There is no shame in loving Twilight or liquid egg whites poured from a carton.
Look. Twilight is a vampire novel, but it isn’t the vampire novel. It isn’t even The Vampire Diaries universe. There have been poems and stories about the dreaded vampyre since the 18th century, but the vampire genre was born in 1897 with the release of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It definitely wasn’t born the first time Edward Cullen sparkled and played a game of late night baseball, but that was the day it almost died.
Vampires had to go away for awhile. YA had to turn to angels and werewolves and fairies and demons and other magical things to fulfill it’s supernatural sexy quotient. You’d find a novel with mention of vampires here and there, but nothing approached the former frenzy. We didn’t know when the terror of the night would rise again, but risen they have.
Renee Ahdieh’s The Beautiful is a worthy way to kickoff the resurgence. The historical setting and well coiled mystery is all those words people like to use when talking about good books, lush and atmospheric. It is both those things, but what I really appreciated was the exploration of race and class in 19th century New Orleans. It also had romance because where there are vampires smoldering and a slow burn will follow.
I enjoyed The Beautiful , but I wasn’t ready for the return of the bloodsuckers. I’m a little vampire adverse. Then I received a Twitter alert. Caleb Roehrig had something to say. I always want to hear what Caleb Roehrig has to say. He gave me Flynn, Rufus and Bash, drag queens pulling heists, and Rufus and Bash.
I use Roehrig’s White Rabbit in the classroom as a mentor text and book club option. I’ve talked about it before but maybe not enough. Go read it. Even better, let Michael Crouch read it to you. That thing I said about voices—his hits all the right places. And that thing Caleb Roehrig had to say, he has a new novel coming in July. It’s called The Fell of Dark, and it has vampires. Turns out when placed in the right hands, I’m so ready. Bring on the vamps.
And 2020 book wish, please let Michael Crouch narrate the audiobook. I’d take a day off work for that.