The key scene in Christopher Moore’s 1995 comic novel Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story, comes at the end of the first of three sections.
In the aftermath of making love for the first time, Jody is trying to convince Tommy that she is a vampire. But he’s not buying it.
“I’m a vampire.”
“That’s okay,” Tommy said. “I knew this girl in high school who gave me a hickey that covered the whole side of my neck.”
“No, Tommy, I’m really a vampire.” She looked him in the eye and did not smile or look away. She waited.
He said, “Don’t goof on me, okay?”
It goes on like this for another page or so as Jody keeps coming up with ways to show him that she’s, well, not quite human any more, and Tommy isn’t getting it.
Then, to prove to him that she can see in the dark, Jody has Tommy open one of Jack Kerouac’s books — Tommy is a would-be writer living in San Francisco, so, of course, he has a copy of Kerouac — and proceeds to read half a page in the total dark of the bedroom.
The light starts to dawn in Tommy’s head.
Tommy’s eyes were wide. “You really are a vampire, aren’t you?”
“I’m sorry. I needed help. I needed someone.”
“You really are a vampire.” It was a statement this time.
“Yes, Tommy, I am.”
He paused for a second to think, then said, “That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. Let’s do it again with our shoes off.”
It’s impossible to read Booksucking Fiends without thinking that Moore, too, thinks being a vampire would be the “coolest thing.”
After publishing this novel, which turned out to be the first of three with these characters, Moore was probably shunned by other vampire-book writers because, really, what’s a vampire book without all the spooky stuff and the brooding and the dark yearnings and the quasi-religious, quasi-sexual overtones.
Here, because Moore is the comically randy writer that he is, there are no quasi-sexual overtones. There’s just a lot of playful sex, even if maybe — well, actually, always — during the act, one of the lovers, well, yeah, 19-year-old Tommy, gets his neck bitten and his blood sucked, but, hey, it’s all in good fun.
And, yes, Tommy does put the 26-year-old Jody — who realizes that she’ll always be 26 and sort of mourns the possibility of change (well, actually, the possibility of dieting to lose the five pounds she needed to lose at the time she was vampired) —into a deep-freeze while in her sunrise-to-sunset coma, but that was just as a scientific test and it ended up being all for the good, except of course for that necrophiliac attendant at the morgue who was about to do his dirty deed on what he thought was Jody’s body when she thawed out and he got the shock of his life which actually was the end of his life, but, well, he was going to rape what he thought was a dead body so, really, good riddance, right?
The question at the heart of Booksucking Fiends is this: How would a normal person react if she woke up — under a dumpster, for instance — to find that she was a vampire?
Well, she’d try to cope, right? And, since she is missing-in-action in a big way once the sun comes up, she’d need someone to run errands and do stuff during those dangerous daylight hours. And, well, one thing leading to another, and, well, apparently still feeling the hunger of physical attraction — even with that hunger for the red stuff — she’d find a boyfriend like Tommy.
Although sometimes one or both of the lovers are a bit exasperated by the whole thing.
Tommy’s just trying to do the right thing and know what to expect so he reads a lot of books like the Anne Rice novels, and much of what he learns there is plain crap. And so, he’s often asking Jody, well, what gives? What are the rules?
Which, at times, aggravates Jody:
“Nobody gave me a fucking owner’s manual when I got these fangs. I’m doing the best that I can.”
“Somebody wrote Rambo”
Of course, Tommy’s got his own questions about his own calling as a writer.
Back in Indiana, he just didn’t fit in, so much so that his father and a friend corner him to figure out just how much he doesn’t fit in.
Their interrogation determined that: Yes, Tommy did like girls and cars. No, he was not, nor had he ever been, a member of the Communist party. And, yes, he was going to pursue a career as a writer, regardless of the lack of AFL-CIO affiliation.
Tommy tried to plead his care for a life in letters, but found his arguments ineffective (due in no small part to the fact that both his inquisitors thought that Hamlet was a small pork portion served with eggs). He was breaking a sweat and beginning to accept defeat when he fired a desperation shot.
“You know, somebody wrote Rambo?”
Thomas Flood, Sr., and Harley Businsky exchanged a look of horrified realization. They were rocked, shaken, crumbling.
Tommy pushed on. “And Patton — someone wrote Patton.”
Well, it was that inspiration that won the day and got Tommy out to San Francisco where he met Jody and they had an adventure and hunted and were hunted by another much scarier vampire, and met the Emperor of San Francisco…..
And, well, let me tell you it was the coolest thing.
Patrick T. Reardon