Not that I think Stephen King is reading my blog, but I must extend a sincere apology. ‘Salem’s Lot is another of his (your? GULP) books that I have read before. I am embarrassed to admit that I remembered nothing of it, other than that the book was about vampires. I suppose it might be a sort of temporary and oddly welcomed Alzheimer’s?
Prior to starting this novel, I read a comment online somewhere about some of the Richard Bachman books which said – and I’m paraphrasing here – that the books were terrible and those who liked the Bachman books were probably the same people who liked ‘Salem’s Lot. Even in type, the contempt oozed. Oh dear, I thought, I’ve committed myself to reading a bad novel. Oh joy. The rebellious part of me took up the challenge to proof the anonymous commenter wrong. I was going to like the book come hell or high water.
I think I chose the first option, because this book creeped me right out. Creeped me out to the point that more than once when I was reading last night, the regular bumps and bangs in the house had me getting cautiously from my bed, ready to use my rather heavy copy of the Lot to dispatch said vampire. Thanks a lot, Mr. King. Thanks a fucking lot. And I mean that in the most sincere way possible.
That said, I am delighted to have been so creeped out. I thought that my years of reading and watching increasingly disappointing ‘horror’ had turned me so cynical and jaded that I couldn’t get creeped out anymore.
Is ‘Salem’s Lot a perfect novel? There’s no such thing, but for a creepy vampire tale, it does one hell of a job. Preceding his demise, I might have Stephen King rolling over in his grave by making a comparison to his favourite authoress, Stephenie Meyer. I could write oodles and oodles of blog posts about how and why ‘Salem’s Lot is better than Twilight, but that’s not what this post is for. I bring up Stephenie Meyer for only one reason: the domestic angle. I thought that I had posted somewhere before (I can’t find the post though) hat one of the things I found interesting about Twilight was the idea of a supernatural being in a domestic setting. While we don’t see much of that in ‘Salem’s Lot, there is a touch of it, in the shop set up by Mr. Straker, by the vampires returning to their family homes, etc. Far, far creepier and fang-ier than Twilight though.
In his introduction and Afterword, Stephen King references Dracula, and it is clear to see such influences in the story., some named and some not. I love that this story kept to the vampires as evil beings, with all the accompanying Catholic symbols as protection against the unholy. Such stories, draped in the old lore, are sadly missing in today’s glittery world of teenage angst. Hell, even Buffy is rolling over in her grave having to deal with the likes of Twilight and The Vampire Diaries (though Ian Somerhalder gets a pass because he is very pleasant on this girl’s eyes). Far more of the vampire stories need to draw on the old lore. Vampires are monsters, not angsty teenagers.
‘Salem’s Lot, I think, does stand the test of time more than Mr. King thinks it does. The one irksome thing, though, was the many variants of “So he filled him in on what had happened”. It is very true that part of the reason the story feels dated is because cell phones and other forms of instant communication were virtually nonexistent, but still . . . A very small pet peeve from an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable book.
Off to the Overlook Hotel. RED RUM. .