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The Dead Travel Fast: Stalking Vampires from Nosferatu to Count Chocula Hardcover – September 18, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Nuzum taps into a pervasive thirst for vampire mythology and culture. His examination of the enduring popularity of everyone's favorite monster is oddly respectful as well as hilariously irreverent. Discussions of the real Vlad Dracula, and of Bram Stoker's background and writing, are informative, and the author's acute psychological observations are enlightening. The flesh-and-blood of the book, however, is Nuzum's willingness to throw himself into his research, often with hysterically funny results. He drank his own blood, saw 605 vampire movies (overwhelmingly awful), took a vampire tour of San Francisco led by Countess Mina, went on a tacky and sometimes dangerous vampire tour of Romania, did a stint as a vampire in a haunted house, and attended a Dark Shadows convention. With heavy doses of self-deprecating humor, Nuzum recounts these experiences while slyly exposing the silliness of vampire culture. The liberal use of profanity may turn off some adults, but worldly wise teens are unlikely to be so fainthearted.–Paula Dacker, Charter Oak High School, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Praise for The Dead Travel Fast

"Oozing with blood, intellect and unexpected sincerity, The Dead Travel Fast is the definitive look at why society loves the man who's not in the mirror. This is the best book on vampirism I've ever read."
--Chuck Klosterman, author of Killing Yourself to Live
 
"Eric Nuzum has written a first-class, if respectful, evisceration of contemporary vampire culture. It's also the funniest vampire comedy since Love at First Bite."
--Neal Pollack, author of Alternadad
 
"Eric Nuzum walks where few writers dare to tread in his quest to ferret out vampires, traveling from Las Vegas to Transylvania, and even drinking his own blood -with predictably disastrous results. An entertaining history packed with colorful characters, arcane trivia, and keen insight into our enduring fascination with these mythical creatures."
--Jennifer Ouellette, author of The Physics of the Buffyverse
 
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (September 18, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031237111X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312371111
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,822,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Eric Nuzum is a recovering pop culture critic, VH1 pundit, and author. His latest book is a memoir about ghosts entitled Giving Up The Ghost (Dial Press, 2012). His previous books include Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America and The Dead Travel Fast: Stalking Vampires From Nosferatu to Count Chocula. He was awarded the 2002 National Edward R. Murrow Award for News Writing and his work has appeared in a few publications you've heard of and many more that you haven't heard of. He works for NPR in Washington, D.C., where he lives with his wife.

He opines regularly on his Web site, www.ericnuzum.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Max on November 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
If you're interested in vampires, then you don't have much in common with Eric Nuzum, he makes it clear in his book that he's not very interested in them, and finds those that are to be lacking in some way. And it's not just vampires, if you're interested in anything that's remotely popular within American pop culture, then he seems to think of you as less than human, he even brags about not watching television. This was especially strange because in the book jacket, it says that one of his jobs was commenting on pop culture on VH1's various celebreality shows.

You name it, Friends was a terrible show (all of those respected television critics that liked it are wrong, the VH1 vj has spoken), Vegas is fake (ok, he has a point, but come on, everybody knows this, he acts as if he's making some deep observation). He never misses an opportunity to talk down about those that he's writing about. Except for Butch Patrick (Eddie Munster), he comes out fairly unscathed, I guess because, like the author, he pretty much makes clear he doesn't have any real interest in the subject matter either.

He goes to a Dark Shadows convention, and seems fairly horrified that people would spend their free time going to such an event, I suppose their time would have been better spent staying home and watching him on VH1, making witty observations about Gary Coleman. He does force himself to watch every episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, which he grudgingly admits is pretty good. He discovers that several of his co-workers are fans of the show, and this is where he makes an especially insulting observation, he muses that Buffy fans are more normal than Dark Shadows fans, and that unlike the weirdos at the convention, the Buffy fans aren't fanatic about a silly TV show.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent book. From the first chapter it sucks you into the world of vampires. Not only is the book well-researched, but the book is written in a way that you feel you are with the author as he travels to Transvylvania, Las Vegas, and other travels in search of the truth about vampires. The book would be entertaining even if you knew little or nothing about vampires. A must read.
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Format: Paperback
I wouldn't bother with this book unless you know virtually nothing about vampires in popular culture. I don't consider myself any sort of expert on the subject, just someone with a passing interest for several years, but there was almost nothing here that I hadn't seen or read several times somewhere else. The author seems to have lived about 30-40 years without seeing almost any vampire movies, reading any vampire books, or watching vampire tv shows (or watching tv at all as he reports). Then he suddenly developed an obsession for them (or saw a marketing opportunity), did some quick research, and slapped a bunch of info together.

The book literally jumps from topic to topic on every page. You get some very dry, textbook-like history on Vlad Tepes, then a page about Buffy, then a couple pages on a visit to a vampire bar, to another dry lecture about Bram Stoker, and on and on. Maybe another author could make that work (actually they have already) but this book just plods on and on, skipping from subject to subject. I had to force myself at times to keep going.

Plus there's so much basic info left out. Maybe if it was organized differently, such as chronologically with the origins of vampire myths then to Bram Stoker then vampires as they changed each decade in movies. Or maybe each subject could get a chapter, like movies, then tv, then books. That way each area could be more fully developed and more easily digested. Instead it's like "hey this movie exists, then oh this theory exists, then this location exists" just randomly presented.

Before reading this I already knew about Vlad Tepes being a model for Dracula. I already knew there are vampire tours to Romania.
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Format: Hardcover
"'Denn die Todten reiten Schnell.' ("For the dead travel fast.") The strange driver evidently heard the words, for he looked up with a gleaming smile."
-- Dracula, by Bram Stoker

Eric Nuzum set a pretty steep goal for himself when he set out to write a book about vampires -- vampire legends, Draculean history, vampire fiction, vampire movies, and people who think they ARE vampires. "The Dead Travel Fast: Stalking Vampires from Nosferatu to Count Chocula" starts promisingly, but Nuzum's lack of interest starts showing after Romania.

And when a book opens with the author vomiting his own blood, you know it's going to be an interesting ride. Nuzum describes his own increasingly bizarre journey into vampire subculture -- online oddballs, soap opera conventions, Black Masses, vampire tours by "Mina Harker," blood-drinking fetishists, and even a trip to Transylvania itself.

And he also researches quite a bit about vampire legends and how they evolved, as well as their connections to Prince Vlad Drakula, a happily savage ruler who got off on seeing people impaled. Not to mention, of course, the seminal vampire novel, the layered, atmospheric "Dracula," and the stories that spun off from it.

You gotta admit, Nuzum immersed himself in his work -- he writes in a Dave Barryian style, with lots of wacky people (including a gambling vegephobic vegetarian) and trivia that sticks in the mind (John Kerry and George Dubya are both related to Vlad the Impaler). There are plenty of hilarious moments, such as when he's sealed inside a coffin as part of a haunted-house hazing ritual.

The problem is, Nuzum is only really interested in "Dracula," and then only in the history and original novel. When it comes to anyone else, he seems rather disgusted.
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