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Book Review: The Very Bloody Marys

Very Bloody Marys

Very Bloody Marys

I’ve owed M. Christian this review for a very long time and since it’s not timely with the release (2007 by Haworth Positronic Press), then why not a review in time for that holiday shopping list? And a huge mea culpa–I didn’t realize it had been that long. I still owe you.

From the title you might think this is about drinking, or murderous monarchs. If you thought one of these, you’re close to the heart of the matter. But really it’s both, about bloodthirsty vampire queens. Some are not so much queen as just murderous gay vampires. If you’re familiar with M. Christian’s work, you know he’s a prolific writer, and his writing includes erotic tales straight, gay, lesbian, etc. He’s very versatile. So I confess to thinking this book would be about gay vampires with  a lot of erotica thrown in. Though it has sensuous details this is more the tale of a gay vampire trying to gain experience as a detective. It’s a murder mystery with the supernatural thrown in.

While vampire detectives are not necessarily new, a gay vampire detective is. Valentino is thrust into the crime scene on a personal level, since his mentor is missing. And the crime scene: Vespa scooting vampires are killing the folks of San Francisco and risking the outing of all vampires, who tend to live by a code so that they aren’t hunted down. Coupled with mentor Pogue’s disappearance, Valentino has two mysteries to figure out.

The book opens with three different beginnings as Valentino tries on his authorial voice. This sets the tone, and gives this character high twinkiness. Valentino is a flamer, vapid and vain. The character was so irritating and flittythat I nearly put the book down, but his way in the world was intriguing. I think M. Christian might have cut it down a bit but then I realized there is a good reason about a quarter of the way into the book on why Valentino is acting this way. He comes to discover what’s been done to him and his personality deepens as it’s unlayered.

Valentino relies on other supernatural help and Christian’s writing uses some very descriptive phrases. For being an undead guy, Valentino is vibrantly alive and given to over verbosity that doesn’t stop in describing his zombie driver: “One time–big shudder here–I had caught a look at his eyes, two puss-filled boiled-egg eyes staring, unblinking, straight ahead, and didn’t sleep well for a week.” Of course that should be pus-filled not eyes with cats in them, but I blame the publisher for not putting a proofreader on it or maybe they did and missed it. There are very few typos, which is a good thing.

You get a good sense of Valentino’s world as he sees it. “Finally, the Brass Ass of the Great Emancipator (Abraham Lincoln) led me through silverfish heaven to a narrow doorway between the piles…In it was Saul, tarnished silver hair, rainbow sweater unwinding in spots into primary colors, brittle bones showing where unwinding yarn couldn’t hide it, eyes like bleached robin’s eggs, Indian blanket in his lap hiding the bones I knew weren’t just brittle but also didn’t work, and, because of those legs, an ancient wheelchair.”It took me a moment to realize he meant realbones, not bony legs; the visual setting is very concrete.

Much of Valentino’s descriptions go into overdrive, with buckets of adjectives. They hit their height when he’s talking about his lover, Julian. “Oh oh oh Julian Julian Julian–beloved, adored, venerated companion, compadre, mate, playmate, partner, betrothed, idol, best friend, love, lover–oh oh oh Julian Julian Julian…” A bit much? Yes, but then this is the turning point for Valentino.

Events pick up with dire and catastrophic discoveries. I don’t want to give it away but let’s just say the Very Bloody Marys are brutal, relentless, sociopathic, fashion sensitive vampires. As the fog clears from Valentino’s eyes he finds his world isn’t as he suspected. Sure it still has a few supernatural beings but all is not what it seems. He still richly describes things but there is a darker vein now to the vampire detective’s perspective. “The inky blackness didn’t so much as run as steadily walk out of that doorway. A pooling, a billowing, a smoking, and then up and into arms and legs and a wide-brimmed hat pulled down over hooded eyes.”

When  Valentino runs into Ombre, even the supernatural shade notices something has changed though the gay vampire tries to hide it. “It’s just that you seem different somehow. The flippancy is still there, that much is clear, but it’s like something else is missing.”

And Valentino has changed on several levels. In the process of discovering what has happened to Pogue, being threatened with permanent annihilation and in stopping the brutal gang, he earns his wings. He solves the mysteries, stops the Marys and finally grows up a bit after 200 years. M. Christian wraps up the tale in a very satisfying and unpredictable way. It’s one of the many bright spots in the story; very little is predictable. You won’t see this as another tired take on the vampire trope. It’s refreshingly bright and if not a complete happy ending, one with suitable revenge.

If you’re looking for a good, fast paced read, or if you like mystery or fantasy or gay fiction. Or if you just want something different and new, this book will be as satisfying as a vampire’s first drink of blood.

The Very Bloody Marys, M. Christian, 2007 Haworth Press Inc. ISBN: 9781560235354

M. Christian’s site: http://zobop.blogspot.com/

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Gay Pride and Whole Rainbow of Possibilities

This coming weekend marks the gay pride parade in Vancouver. I have only managed to go once and it was a so-so parade. I was expecting big Kermit floats and others covered in flowers. Mostly it came across as ways for different businesses to advertise while showing support. Though you do get some colorful individuals and the bare-breasted dykes on bikes. We probably have the second largest population of gay and lesbians after San Francisco. Why the west coast? I’m not sure. Probably because it’s warmer but also port cities tend to always be a blend of tradition and new ideas brought in by different ships and crews. Port cities are usually more liberal.

One of the news items associated with this year’s gay pride parade was about a Sikh man who has been trying to put a Bollywood style float together and running into some opposition: people don’t want the Sikh religion associated with homosexuality. It’s kind of odd because it’s not the religion that should be associated with homosexuality but homosexuals who are associated with the Sikh religion. Homosexuality isn’t drawn to a particular religion.

No matter what right wing fundamentalist may think, homosexuality isn’t a choice. People are born with a particular preponderance. A very good friend of mine, Greg, told me that by the age of six he knew he was gay and wanted to play “rubbing dinkies” with the boys. Most of the gay men I know tried sex with the other gender but it just didn’t work for them.

Someone posted on wordpress a while back (I wished I’d gone and responded) that their theory was that women who had a “best friend evah” who was gay were women who were dumb, vapid and not too deep (is that the same thing?). I believe the person went on to say that gay men only want these Barbie doll types of women as friends. (I didn’t read all of the article) I’ve heard some ludicrous things over the years and this rates as one of them.

Example: one of my best friends evah is gay. My other best friends are not. I have two degrees and have never been called stupid by anyone. My neighbors are gay and we’re all friends. My landlady is an architect. I certainly see no correlation with one type of person being the preferred friend type to a gay person (and I use gay here to mean men or women). Like all people, gay people have a range of personalities and religious beliefs. They are of all religions and none, varying tastes and desires and life goals. The only difference; they prefer to have sex with the same gender.

Of course, these odd prejudices of only one type for one type can also happen amongst certain gay people. I’ve been accused by gay men of being a fag hag. I hate this term and to me it means a woman who exclusively hangs around with gay men, hoping to eventually have sex with/sway one over to the other side. Even if it only means a woman who only hangs with gay men, I still take offense. If I want to go out with my gay friend, what’s wrong with that and why should it be assumed that’s all I do? Do people presume such things if you’re out with a straight male or a woman?

My biggest problem with people being against homosexuals is–what business is it of yours what they do in their bedrooms? They’re not warping your children’s minds. You can’t sway someone to the “gay side” unless they’re already gay. And as far as I’m concerned any religion that would ban someone just for being born the way they are, is a religion I want nothing to do with. Of course, mostly what happens is religious interpretation by individuals, which can get skewed. Love thy neighbor, but not if he’s gay? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, but not if they’re gay?

I haven’t studied all religions but if compassion means it’s only for someone who is like you, then that’s a pretty narrow definition. Those who protest the most against being gay are probably those who have questioned their own sexuality and repressed it. Live and let live and stop repressing the homosexuals. If they were accepted in most cases as part of society, the need to flaunt or protest goes waaay down. Hooray for Canada, which legalized same sex marriages. And here’s to the gay pride parade which will be needed until everyone accepts that homosexuals are part of the overall population; 10%.

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