Consulting my records, I see that it has been roughly 1.25 years since I wrote the previous post in my Robert McCammon retrospective series. By any standard, that is an unacceptable gap, and I will make every effort to ensure that the next gap is substantially shorter.
Truth is, I've been feeling the weight of time lately. Perhaps not coincidentally, I'll be turning 40 in a few weeks, and while I don't have the existential worry about that which I'm expected to have according to most books and movies, I nevertheless feel a bit as if time is decidedly not on my side. There are things in life which I wish to accomplish, and thus far I have accomplished nary a one of them.
Don't misunderstand me. This is not the sound of despair you hear; it is instead simply the sound of somebody who realizes that it's time to start focusing a bit better. I've still got plenty of time to do all -- or at least most -- of those things on my list, but getting them done is going to require that I find a way to eliminate as much time-wastage as I can.
What does that mean, in practical terms? Well, primarily, it's going to mean a severe pruning of the amount of movies and television shows that I watch. Not in terms of the raw number of hours spent on those enjoyments, but rather a tighter focusing of which movies and shows I allow myself to watch. Fewer new movies, fewer new tv shows, fewer new comic books. A curtailing of watching several current television shows which I enjoy but which do not really fit into my goals. Example: I've been hearing a lot of friends say that Arrow is awesome. And I love superhero tales. However, I feel as if I can live without it.
Anyways, we're not here to listen to me whinge on about how I don't have time for all the books, movies, tv shows, and music that I'd like to consume. Who does have that much time, anyways? There's nothing special about my plight, and I only use the word "plight" so that I can immediately point out that as far as plights go, that's a damn sight better than the plights of many.
Nope, we're not here for all that selfish bullshit. We're here for this:
That's a groovy cover. Not at all accurate in terms of the novel's depiction of vampires (whose fangs are much more like those of a rattlesnake), but like many a comic-book cover in the history of that medium, this is a cool bit of art on its own merits. I don't have a copy of this edition of the novel, sadly; they aren't all that easy to come by. [UPDATE, June 10: Thanks to some crafty eBayin', I now have a copy of that paperback. Groovy!]
Here's what I've got:
Here's what I've got:
That's a scan of the very copy I bought in 1990 from a little used bookstore called The Book Rack.
I'd not reread this book in a long time, if ever; I think this may have been one of the McCammons I only read once. I remember liking it a lot when I read it, though, and while I felt like it had some similarities to Stephen King's vampire novel, 'Salem's Lot, I also felt as if it was good enough that I didn't mind the comparison.
Over the years, my memory for the novel's specifics faded away almost entirely. If you read my blog regularly (and thanks if you do!), then you know that that is by no means unusual for me. I wish I had a better memory but alas, I don't, so in some instances, I'll have read a book and not be able to remember anything about it apart from a general sense of how much I liked it. It's a bit like a memory of a smell: I can't grasp the specifics, but I can remember a bit of how it made me feel. Memory as emotion: like describing music using only colors to do so..
As I've said before, my blogs are to some extent designed as a weapon against the creeping menace of poor memory. Before I began blogging, I'd have to rely on that emotion-sense memory to "remember" a lot of the books I'd read; now, in some cases, I can go back and read blog posts I've written. "Oh yeah," I might think to myself; "that's what that was like, and here are several thousands words to prove it." It's a cool thing, and I kinda wish I'd started doing it sooner.
As regrets go, that's a minor one. But regret (he said, segueing semi-nimbly) runs deep in They Thirst, and indeed might be what I would characterize as the novel's chief emotion. Here, the main character, police detective Andy Palatazin, illustrates my point for me:
Now a world away from Fountain Avenue, Palatazin felt a wave of regret pass over him. He took his coat from the back of a chair and wearily shrugged into it. Why hadn't things worked out as he'd planned so many years before? His dream had been to take his wife and son up to a little town north of San Francisco where the climate was cooler and head a small police station where the most serious crime was kids stealing from a pumpkin patch. He wouldn't even need a car, and he would know and be liked by everyone in town. Jo could open that florist shop she was always thinking about, and his son would be quarterback on the high school football team. He buttoned his coat and let the dreams drift away like so much shimmering dust. After the second stillbirth Jo's doctor had told her it would be dangerous for her, both physically and emotionally, to try again. He suggested adoption and left it at that. And Palatazin had been caught, as everyone is, in the huge whirlpool of events that takes you down once, twice, a third and final time. He knew he would probably remain in this city until he died, though sometimes late at night he thought he could close his eyes and see that little town, full of white picket fences and clean streets and chimneys that puffed white plumes of cherrywood smoke in the long winters.Time to go home, he thought.
Virtually every human character in the novel has some version of this melancholy; it seems almost to be a part of the human condition. Which, arguably, it is, at least in current Western culture.