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Fat White Vampire Blues Paperback – July 1, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Vampires have problems, too, as shown in Fox's clever, wisecracking debut that never quite works as the tragicomedy it aspires to be. Taxi-driving vampire Jules Duchon weighs 350 pounds and is still gaining from drinking the blood of the citizens of New Orleans, whose rich, unhealthy diets are teeming with fatty lipids. Obesity's not his only problem. A flashy new black vampire in town-Malice X, a Superfly with fangs-has taken over his turf. Jules turns to Maureen, the super-sized stripper who "made" him for help, and Mo eventually calls on Jules's ex-buddy Doodlebug ("D.B.") for more aid. D.B., a lithe transvestite vampire who has had great success in California as a self-reliance guru, wisely allows Jules to follow his own path-for a while. When it becomes apparent that Jules has a lot to learn about being a vampire, D.B. is there to guide him. While the author pays obvious homage to A Confederacy of Dunces, the humor here fails to rise above the sitcom level. Jules is just plain dumb and his miseries are usually self-inflicted. Characters are mostly caricatures. Relationships and plot complexities-Jules's moral dilemma concerning his victims, his comic-book hero secret identity as the Hooded Terror with D.B. as his sidekick, his plan to turn a band of white supremacists into vampires-don't satisfactorily entwine. Although by the end a lot of blood has been spilled and Jules has learned his lesson in unlife, there's little of real substance to sink your teeth into.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
*Starred Review* Poor Jules Duchon. It isn't easy being a vampire in New Orleans. Potential victims' blood is filled with fat from the rich local cuisine, and so Jules is a whopping 463 pounds. He would like to diet, but, really, his life isn't too bad--until he walks into his house and finds tough-talking black vampire Malice X waiting for him. Annoyed that Jules has been feeding off black victims, Malice tells him to stick to his own kind. Shaken, Jules turns to his stripper ex, Maureen, the vampire who made him. She is as overweight as Jules and can't bear to have him around because he reminds her of her own heft. So she sends him to the High Crewe of Vlad Tepes, but they have "modernized" and no longer need to crudely hunt for victims. Things just get worse for Jules. The police confiscate his car, and after he feeds off a black mugger, Malice X retaliates by burning down his house. Jules briefly flees town but comes back and, with the help of Maureen and Doodlebug, a cross-dressing vampire whom Jules sired, he stands up to Malice X--not without dire and tragic consequences. Jules is an often hapless hero, but a sympathetic one, and readers of vampire fiction will delight in this droll parody of the genre. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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First, let me establish my bona fides: as a mere chit of clueless chick long time passing I helped do layout and scut work for "The Ungarbled Word." I graduated from what was LSU/NO before it was UNO. My brother went to Tulane (undergraduate and graduate) and married into the usual matriarchal NOLA family. Before The Quarter was a tourist mecca, I was haunting the streets and looking for more. Yeah, I even remember when the Morning Call wasn't in Metarie.
I used to work at St. Claude's Hospital on, well, St. Claude Ave. (imagine that) as an emergency room clerk. It's not there any more, don't look. On my 11pm to 7am shifts, my beloved would pick me up and we'd breakfast at Morning Call, sigh. Life then was finest kind.
"Fat White Vampire Blues" is such a fabulously fine read I lack both wit and words to bring it to life for you here. But, I guarantee this: you will love this book, laugh off your posterior, appreciate the writing and push this book into the hands of anyone you know to be a good reader.
What an auspicious, apposite date, boy howdy.
Jules Duchon has let everything get out of hand in the eighty years he's been a vampire. He now weighs 450 pounds, lives in a dump of a house and drives a beat up cab for a "living". His only friend is a fellow cabby - the others have been alienated and hounded out of his life, despite their love and loyalty for him. His life turns upside-down when he puts the bite on a homeless black woman, only to have her become the object of a campaign for police reform and neighborhood sympathy. Additionally (and more importantly), Jules? meal attracts the attention of "Malice X", a black vampire with an attitude and a grudge, who tells Jules his days of chowing down on black victims is over.
Like a certain other "husky" hero in a famed New Orleans novel, Jules goes into a blue funk, whining and bemoaning his fate, rather than fight back or change his ways. But Jules is neither as vociferous or educated as Ignatius J. Reilly; he is merely whiny and annoying. He runs crawling to Maureen, his vampire parent and ex-lover, who at first sends him packing, but finally relents and enlists the aid of Doodlebug, Jules' own vampire spawn. This is where the novel gets really weird.
Fox obviously had a great time writing this book and was influenced by many other writers while writing it. He must have read "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" before writing this. How else to explain the bizarre backstory concerning Jules and Doodlebug's adventures during WWII as costumed superheroes, ridding the docs of Nazi saboteurs? For fun, Fox writes that Doodlebug, a crossdresser, studied in Tibet with an enclave of vampire monks who learn to control their urges, just like a certain werewolf in a novel by Christopher Golden.
Some of these elements seem distantly out of place, while others fit perfectly onto the broadly comic canvas of the author's page. In the end, I enjoyed the experience of reading this book, though I often found myself rolling my eyes involuntarily. I don't understand how an author might write that a vampire character is "dead", then talk about his irregular heartbeat and labored breathing, or suggest that he may have diabetes. Or have him gain weight, a function based on metabolism, which a dead character should not experience. But some over-the-top moments shouldn't stop you from reading this fun debut. In fact, you should join me in applauding Andrew Fox for his willingness to be so unapologetically goofy.
"Fat White Vampire Blues" is a b-movie of a book informed by pulp magazines, comic books, new age spiritualism, and, well, b-movies. The conclusion of the tale is a little unsatisfying, and Fox plays fast and furious with so many concepts of vampirism (both traditional and some his own creations) along the way that he leaves many unexplored in the effort to get his story wrapped up. Maybe that's not a bad thing. Jules could always return in a follow-up, and that wouldn't be a bad thing either. Even so, this book is just so much fun to read it's hard not to like it.
As for any charges that the book is racist or homophobic ... give me a break. Methinks the reader doth protest too much.
Most recent customer reviews
This was a great read. Fun and funny.Read more