This is a vampire story set in the late 70s. It mixes a straight-forward narrative with excerpts from an academic paper on the life and work of Andy Warhol – who was a vampire. Or at least in this alternate world he was.
Despite being a huge fan of Buffy I generally avoid vampire fiction whether in movie, TV or book form. There’s just so much of it and so much of it isn’t that original. Given that, and given that I didn’t really care for the interruptions to the story that the academic paper provides, I was a little surprised to find myself won over by this. Even more so because the writing generally was so ‘busy’ – the exact opposite of the kind of spare, simple prose I think I like. Florid descriptions and colourful word-pictures abound.
In the end though it had an engaging main character and an intriguing concept. Johnny Pop is a vampire who at the outset kills a punk girl Nancy and frames her drug-addled boyfriend Sid for it. The story goes on to chart his rise in the 70s nightlife of New York as he creates the drug ‘drac’ which is a form of powdered vampire blood that allows you to feel the rush of being a nosferatu for a night.
This is an alternate reality where not only do vampires exist and are widely known about, almost accepted, but also is peopled with a wide variety of characters from fiction and celebrities from our world. I guess it makes sense – Warhol is someone who made art using figures from popular culture, someone who arguably ‘fed’ off the celebrity of others, and so it’s fitting that in this world where he’s a literal vampire we bump into Travis Bickle and Tony Manero , as well as Blondie, Sid and Nancy and a whole host of others.
Spotting the references was fun – I had to look up a couple and I’m sure there’s ones I missed – but in the end it was the story that pulled me through. I did want to know what happened next.