Thursday, October 22, 2009

Suggested Halloween Reading: Sundays with Vlad

Over the course of the next week, I'll be popping in here and there with a quick, recommended Halloween read to get you all in the mood for the scariest night of the year. And I don't mean April 15.

The recommendations will range from comics ad graphic novels (such as Halloween: Nightdance, which I mentioned yesterday) to full-on books. You know, the ones without the pictures and all the punching. And the only real requirements for a book to make this list are that it has to have something vaguely to do with Halloween, or it has to be scary.

Today's selection falls into the first category. Though, some of the stories the author tells about driving through Romania are pretty terrifying.

Sundays with Vlad coverSundays with Vlad: From Pennsylvania to Transylvania, One Man's Quest to Live in the World of the Undead, written by Paul Bibeau, takes a cultural look at the evolution and eventual commercialization of the Dracula legend.

And I'm just realizing that last year, right around this time, I mentioned the fact that I had just started reading this book. I stopped, obviously, and picked it up again almost a full year later. And I'm glad I did.

Pick it up again, I mean. As I wrote last time:

Sundays opens with a funny (and kinda scary) story about the author's honeymoon, and how said honeymoon takes a detour to the hills of Romania in search of Dracula's castle.

There's also tons of fascinating information about Romanian political history, and I think I've come to the conclusion that the Romanian people were likely better off under ol' Vlad the Impaler than many of their more recent political leaders.

Bibeau relates the story of how, in 2000, in an attempt to beef up Romania's tourism and to capitalize on the country's most famous son, political leaders come up with a brilliant and hysterical plan--they build a Dracula-inspired theme park.

Like Disney World,

There's plenty of interesting stuff in those first chapters about the historical Vlad for even the most discerning Romanian political historian. Of which, I'm sure, there are many.

Bibeau even talks about the Dracula book wars and the controversy that surrounds the now-famous book, In Search of Dracula, in which the authors claim that Stoker knew more than scholars previously thought he knew about the violent Romanian prince. (He didn't.)

From the hills of Romania, Bibeau takes readers across America in search of the influence of Dracula. And he doesn't have to go very far. In New Jersey, he visits the remains of a Dracula's Castle attraction, and in Virginia he attends (and takes part in!) a LARPing convention.

He watches 48 straight hours of (bad) vampire movies and he interviews the best known Dracula scholar in the world, Elizabeth Miller. He visits "real" "psychic" "vampires" and he hangs out with a guy who makes fang implants for a living.

And all the while, Bibeau's humor kept me laughing. When it comes down to it, Sundays is an incredibly informative title, but it's also laugh-out-loud funny. The book is thouroughly researched and it's a fast, don't-want-to-put-it-down read.

Still don't believe me? Check out an excerpt of the book, right here.

Sundays with Vlad is the perfect compliment for a late October evening, and if you're a fan of vampires, or of Stoker, you'll love it. Check it out!

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