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Friday, February 29, 2008

Texas Vampire Moans Intro


The Texas Vampire Moans

A Will's Texana Electric Monograph

The full bibliography is available free by emailing a request to willstexana@yahoo.com

The "Introduction" to the bibliography is below:

Introduction


With thanks to Texas A & M University Bibliographer Bill Page and Novelist Anne Rice, and a blood bank of librarians, TAMU Librarian Candace Benefiel, Dallas Public Librarian Rachel Howell, and Yale Librarian Eva Guggemons for allowing me to drain them of their vital, free-flowing information.


We could just point to our neighboring Creole and Cajun rich cultural mix in Louisiana where there is a stunningly high ratio of fictional vampire settings. But there may be even lurking foreign influences. J'arbre comme cadaver, by Léo Malet (Paris : Editions Sagesse: Librairie Tschann, 1937) a surreal work by the future major French detective novelist with a yen for America and Texas. It contains six poems, the first entitled “Texas” and another invoking a vampire’s street presence in Paris. The German comic book series “Pecos-Bill, der Held von Texas” [Pecos Bill, Hero of Texas] had as its 20th issue (among 60 others) the title Die Vampire der Goldstadt, [The Vampire of the City of Gold] (Hamburg: Mondial - Verl., 1954). But Bram’s behind it all.

The true progenitor of the Texas vampire genre begins with the modern master, if not the seminal source, Bram Stoker. Stoker’s original Dracula in 1897 included Quincey Morris, a mysterious, rich, young, cowboy Texan, a gentleman suitor of Mina, an Englishwoman caught in Dracula’s web. Morris and other suitors pursue them from England to Transylvania. There Morris stabs, quite literally with his bowie knife, the heart of Dracula, killing him even sans wooden or silver stake: “Whilst at the same moment Mr. Morris's bowie knife plunged into the heart” (see Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/readfile?fk_files=35364&pageno=292

Quincey’s subsequent death from a previous fatal wound does not end the story. The gentlewoman takes her other, true love (the story’s narrator) and she bears a child. “It is an added joy to Mina and to me that our boy's birthday is the same day as that on which Quincey Morris died. His mother holds, I know, the secret belief that some of our brave friend's spirit has passed into him. His bundle of names links all our little band of men together. But we call him Quincey” (page 293).

Folklore begat The Texas Folklore Society. Among its many books, the TFS volume # 25 Folk Travelers: Ballads, Tales, and Talk (SMU 1953), includes the venerable Roy Bedichek’s “Folklore in Natural History” and he refers a number of times to the bloodsucking vampire bat, including (page 30) “Our own Cabeza de Vaca contributed his mite to a flourishing folklore by the tale of bloodsucking bats as "big as turtle doves…” In another TFS volume # 24 The Healer of Los Olmos: And Other Mexican Lore (SMU 1951) Soledad Perez recounts in “Mexican Folklore from Austin, Texas” (page 74) “A few believe she [La Llorona]is a vampire that sucks its victim’s blood” or “has the face of a bat.” TFS pushed the envelope further; T for Texas: A State Full of Folklore edited by Francis Edward Abernethy and Herbert C Arbuckle (Dallas: E-Heart Press, 1982) contained the article “The vampire in an age of technology” by Leslie M. Thompson.

All that remains to be found is an urban legend where the Vampire Jay Frank battles the Yaqui Crying Woman Maria Inman for their love-child Erwin Frank, a chupacabra variation, in order to install the rising dark star to control the world through Austin’s “Silicon Hills.” Indeed Erwin has already made reading Stoker’s Dracula virtually mandatory for UT freshmen http://www.lib.utexas.edu/pcl/roundup/2006.html


Can we credit the modern revival to Anne O’Brien Rice?
As a New Orleans child, Anne had written a novella about Martians and other outlandish tales. Her mother died and her father was transferred to Richardson. She spent her last year at Richardson High School where she met her future husband, Dallas-born Stan Rice the late, noted poet and artist, and she began her college days at Texas Woman’s University and North Texas State University. The two young writers were consanguine in literature. They decamped to California. Her first novel Interview with the Vampire (1976), begun in San Francisco as a short-story in 1969, marked the initial volume of her “Vampire Chronicles” series filled with evocative longing, lusting and intrigue, although not itself set in Texas but New Orleans.

Her later Queen of the Damned (1988) contains a chapter, “The short happy life of Baby Jenks and the Fang Gang,” which Rice reports to Texas readers was informed by her brief Texas experience, “As I recall, the Queen of the Damned was the only novel in which I used my Texas experience. Baby Jenks the little biker novel comes from the area around Cedar Creek lake where I lived, and I get to describe the towns.” The chapter is strong with adolescent emotion, rejection, rebellion, and self-assertion. Jenks dies. But Rice lived through her adolescence and left with her Texan who with her and Browning might find themselves, lovingly “feeling out of sight for the ends of being and ideal grace.” Baby Jenks and Dallas’ Fang Gang are more than nomenclatural adornment; surely they reflect some broken fragments of light on Rice’s own passage, though “through a glass darkly.”

In 2002 after husband Stan Rice’s death in New Orleans, she wrote “In 1973, when I wrote INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, my beautiful husband Stan was the inspiration for the vampire Lestat. He had Stan's long blond hair and blue eyes and feeling grief that inspired Lestat's charm and magnetism and mesmerizing movement,” (http://www.angelfire.com/journal/riceans/messnews7.html ).

Stan’s poems are streaked with surrealism, chunks of color and emotion, and bizarre commentaries on death. His own dead father was the subject of two poems “Don't Put Him In the Freezer" and "Dad is Dead," (The Radiance of Pigs, Knopf, 1999). While not suggestive of his total corpus of his poetry, portions evince nihilism, the pursuit of physical pleasures, vanity, disloyalty, and a touch of brutality – not unknown among the fanged crowd. Obviously, Anne ascended publishing with good company at home, as the numerous uses of Stan’s poetry in her writing affirm.

Doctor of Anthropology Sylvia Grider joined in. As Rice was enjoying her first laurels in 1976, Grider spoke to the Texas and New Mexico folklore societies under the title "Meanwhile Back in Transylvania, or: Dracula and the Texan." She took hero Quincey Morris from comparative literature to social profiles.

In 1982 look to Lubbock. Notice the nascent, literary drops coming from cognoscenti in Lubbock where the dry winds can drive you to strange alternatives. First, Texas Tech Press published Dracula: The Ballet by Peggy Willis and Bram Stoker (Lubbock: Texas Tech Press, 1982). Then only five mysterious years later a dissertation was completed, “Magic, trick-work, and illusion in the vampire plays” by Thomas Leonard Colwin, (Ph. D.) --Texas Tech University, 1987. Something had gotten into the aquifer. Don’t blame the Red Vaiders; they were left alone on the plains, attractive to the thirsty thespians, and the national vampire revival bit their na├»ve, exposed neck early. Recently Tech-student Dustin’s http://www.westtexasvampires.com/ teaser began lurking in videos prepared after he studied the course “Slavistics” (the study of vampires) and chose to expand his earlier “West Texas Vampires” venture on You Tube at http://youtube.com/watch?v=L_6Cgiz9sew

Joe, Al, and Bill legitimized our local genre. Two novels in the late 1980’s appeared each by a good and successful writer: Joe R. Lansdale (Dead in the West - New York: Space and Time, 1986) and Alan R. Erwin.(Skeleton Dancer - New York: Dell Pub., 1989). Then the next year Bill Crider released his children’s book (A Vampire Named Fred. Lufkin, TX: Maggie Books, 1990). After which anti-coagulants were added to the water. Dozens undulated though the publishers’ veins. The cotton tenant farmer and stoic cowboy and the patient heroine and Old Yeller have company, and they are not all gentlemen or all men for that matter or human.
Quickly Dracula movies flickered in dark rooms , Les Vampires (1915) onward with maybe 200 versions. Quincey’s big screen roles are un-researched. Robert Rodriguez directed the 1996 From Dust Till Dawn, set in Texas and Mexico, then the sequel Texas Blood Money (1999) and the prequel The Handman’s Daughter (2000).

An independent company http://www.mistydawntexas.com/ has recently produced Misty Dawn “created and written by Terry Yates and being taped in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. It is both a parody and an homage to the Dark Shadows gothic daytime soap opera. Think of it as "Dark Shadows meets Dallas", complete with a mysterious vampire and a greedy oil baron. / Terry had the idea for the TV series and started writing the scripts, but never dreamed that he would actually end up producing an end product. Together with David Moore as executive producer and a talented cast and crew that are currently giving their time and talent for practically nothing, Misty Dawn is taking shape as a very funny parody in a comedy style not unlike. See their You Tube trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvf9QCWDSCo.

If you visit You Tube http://www.youtube.com/ your search for “Texas and vampire” retrieves 98 videos. Similar to You Tube, the Metacafe at http://www.metacafe.com/ pulls up 1,000 videos, a bewildering number; maybe the “and” was not read as Boolean.
Pale short stories, and extracts from novels-in-progress appear via the net. The author “UntaintableRoses” offers “The Official Bloodline,” an El Paso passage, rating itself for young adults, and appearing at http://www.quizilla.com/users/.Chasing.bunnies./quizzes/The%20Official%20Bloodline%20%5BA%20Vampire%20Story%5D%20El%20Paso/
Also for flickering gamesters, an interactive game is found at B.R. Turner’s http://www.onr.com/user/bturner/ as “Chris’ Houston Vampire Game,” which seems to center in the housing projects, dating about 2000.

In terms of gross, suggestive gestures, the Google is searched to find the most bloodsucking Texan city. “Texas vampire” gives 621,000 hits, Dallas 495K, Austin 488K, Houston 416K, San Antonio 240K, El Paso 163K, Galveston 92K, and Lubbock 84K. Dallas’ Chamber of Commerce must be pleased with the Fang Gang, and the Austin Weird” campaign seems to be working. We’re so relieved. How are things in your locale?

Aggie Bill Page’s outstanding “Horny Toads and Ugly Chickens: A Bibliography on Texas in Speculative Fiction” (September 2001) - at TAMU’s Cushing website http://library.tamu.edu/cushing/collectn/lit/science/sci-fi/texfan.htm - set an entirely new standard in bibliography. A number of the several hundred citations invoke our topic. Page notes that 90% of his total citations were published since 1970, shadowing the wave of Texas vampirism. Even since 2001 the further growth has been remarkable. Page’s other work “Fantasyland / Aggieland: A History of Science Fiction and Fantasy at Texas A&M University and in Brazos County, Texas, 1913-1985” (2007) reveals Aggieland’s deep interests and probably profiles much of broader Texas. He even notes vampire movies shown on campus as far back as the 1930s. See http://libraryasp.tamu.edu/cushing/collectn/lit/science/sci-fi/science%20fiction%20texas%20am.pdf

Texas has always been a piece of surreal exotica for fantastic tales in the coffee and whiskey and pillow talk in Europe. And there’s the frontier bloodbath where we demonized the “savage” natives. Let’s not forget the un-human conditions of the slavery institution, fogging the distinctions of acceptable, civilized behavior and blowing the embers of secret conspiracies to overthrow the common power structure. And there’s the recent public interest in chupacabras, bloodsuckers as fearless as bats, they say.
Yes, the bats. Did you know that Texas is the national capital for bats (see http://www.batcon.org/home/default.asp). Our official state symbol for flying mammals is the Mexican Free-tailed bat.

And through it all, women have behaved increasingly more independently and, indeed, have written half the adult novels listed below and with increasing eroticism. Are you nervous yet? Check the several recent works of Diane Whiteside.
Our wide open Texas plains, dense forestlands, lapped coasts, and glittery cities invite writers to fill them, imaginatively.

Before 1980 Texas vampires, except as bats, were virtually non-existent. Then there was the trickle at the base of Texas’ long Panhandle neck. Whatever the causes or correlates or co-incidents or consequences, in the last 25 years an entirely fresh, literary vein or genre or topic has pulsed to life, as uncovered in the below thin-skinned listing. Just since 2000, over 30 titles have been published.

The works listed below (an incomplete list) are usually books of fiction with Texas settings or Texas characters (except for the D & T’s) with the vampire theme. You’ll find children’s books, YA novels, graphic stories/comics, theses, adult novels, and recent articles. If you dare, pick up a few the 60 titles and explore the new blood in Texas literature - vampires. Is Vlad a fad or the newest, loneliest, midnight cowboy?

For a free, electric copy of the bibliography, willstexana@yahoo.com

1 comment:

University of Texas said...

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