Thursday, September 04, 2008

Vampires vs. Werewolves

Vampires: a) the undead; b) often times gorgeously irresistable but in other times ugly and as reprehensible as sin, c) often bored to tears of their immortal life; d) they're not nice when they're bored.


Werewolves: a) some are born with a curse while some were bitten with the poison, b) always portrayed as tortured souls torn between their animal instincts and their human morality, c) rarely handsome, often hairy, d) with aversion to poodles (honestly, who wouldn't?).

For some reason or another, I find myself rooting for the "Go Werewolves" Team. They just make more interesting story focal points. With vampires you could only read so much about the sexual tension and the boredom and the blood. When it comes down to it all, they are dead. And the dead could only get any more deader.

With werewolves though, you get melodrama, you get guilt, you get insanity. Werewolves aren't dead, they're still very much alive... and sometimes their souls are still very much intact. Imagine that pain --- no aspirin can ever take that away. And there's the virility -- the sense of life and action and a full set of sharp teeth (not just pointed incisors at that). But I could only take so much of the "mating" stuff. I mean, really, scenting and the howling and all that. I could barely understand human sex, and that of wolves could only serve to baffle me even more. But they're more interesting, to me, at least.

There was a time I thought werewolves were second-rate topics. I thought, not seldom, that vampire stories are a little classier. Maybe because vampires don't howl or call sex as mating or whatever. Now I realize it's because vampiric literature is a whole lot more sanitary. The truth is, vampire novelsle often leaves me cold. Once I put down a book, my head says, its just that. You're safe now coz it isn't likely you'd come across one. Just watch out for sallow skin and people who smile with their lips closed. But lycanthropic literature scares the shackles offa me. And intrigues me. Skin-shifting and all that, you know?

Some literary vamps, I liked. Robin Mckinley's Sunshine introduced me to Constantine. Not as gorgeous as the Cullen-kid, but seven times hotter and more interesting. I also like Thomas Dresden, brother to Jim Butcher's wizard Harry Dresden. Add Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and you have my whole retinue.

Werewolves though are another thing. Sadly, I haven't read good enough literature that portrays werewolves real enough, but even then fleeting images of who Jacob Black could have been under a more competent author's hand tantalizes me. Also loved Blood and Chocolate and I saw the movie and read the book. No surprises. Book was better. Holly Lisle also wrote a book Diplomacy of Wolves, and I'm trying to track down a copy, so if you know where I can find one, give me a call.

Another voracious reader, Bookslut, had this to say on her blog:

"I'm a sucker for werewolves. Probably the result of seeing An American Werewolf in London when I was nine, as well as the usual assortment of late-afternoon werewolf movies on TV when I was young. As was the case with almost any of my youthful obsessions, I searched for every book on the subject, and I quickly came to a conclusion: Werewolf literature, as a whole, sucks. Sturgeon's Law underestimates just how bad werewolf stories can be. Frankly, you'd be lucky to find one good lycanthropy story or novel in every three hundred.

What's frustrating, of course, is that this shouldn't be the case. Werewolves, with their horrific transformations and bestial natures, offer all sorts of potential on the silver screen, and you would think the nature of lycanthropes -- man's inner beast emerging through a layer of repression, complete with atavistic sexual and violent urges -- would be just the sort of concept that a good author could have a field day with. Unfortunately, too many authors merely write werewolves as furry serial killers, or are so obsessed with exploring the animalistic natures of the wolves, they simply ignore the human side completely (I ranted about Laurell K. Hamilton last month, but she's got nothing on
Alice Borchardt, whose awful werewolf sagas are only in print, one would presume, thanks to the nepotistic influence of her sister, Anne Rice).

That said, werewolves are one of our oldest and most enduring monster myths, and over the years, there have been some worthwhile entries into the canon

That's about it. Tomorrow, I'll try to talk about something less... mythical and more realistic. But if you know me well, don't count on it very much.

For now, to bed and rest for my aged lower back bone. Hate it.

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