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Book Review: Liquid Diet: A Vampire Satire by Michael McCarty

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The vampire sub-genre has been done to death. Every week there is a new novel, film, or television series that has its own take on the mythos of vampires. Some of us are a little fed up with them, others cannot get enough.

I thought that the entire sub-genre was coming to an end, and the magic was running out — that is, until I read a little novel called Liquid Diet: A Vampire Satire.  But the unfairly little known author Michael McCarty has written a wonderful novel that has revitalised hope for the sub-genre, and helped me realise that there are people who don’t just want to explore the same age-old mythos — they want to take a different path, which is definitely courageous.

The novel concerns Bella Donna, a radio presenter for a late night radio show that deals with the strange. Her guest tonight is Andrew Bloodsworth, a vampire who delves into his past and reveals dark secrets. Most of the listeners are horror and vampire enthusiasts, except for the right wing organization the OTTO (The Opposition To The Occult) who aren’t at all pleased about Andrew’s appearance….

Vampire lust/fear is a very Freudian response, like most things in the horror genre. The unconscious desires that are supposedly driving us are having their way with our emotions when it comes to just about anything. We as a species do fear death but there is something in the unconscious mind that wants to experience it. But not having to actually die, vampires make for the perfect solution to this problem. These aspects have all been carefully thought out by McCarty.

Andrew Bloodsworth is such a fun character as he oozes sexual appeal throughout. Men will envy him and woman will lust over him — I can only imagine how much fun McCarty had creating him. He is fascinating and it is nice to see the entire persona of a vampire once again; not since Interview with a Vampire have I found a vampire’s back story so fascinating. Of course there is a slight unease with the vampirical characters but there is more unease when it comes to the human characters, which is a nice little ironic touch to an already sardonic novel.

The story is quite basic, and to be fair the characters are the reason it holds together so well. It is not just Andrew but also Bella Donna who I found to be very likable and witty, the latter never once performing an action that is completely out of character or place. Bella Donna constitutes the realism that is perpetuated throughout the book, and without her I doubt the realism would have been kept so intact.

The satire is ripe for the picking, especially in the renewed era of the vampire we live in; there are little witty and sometimes scathing retorts about new age vampires — not just one or two in particular — even though people are bound to draw conclusions to books and movies like The Twilight Saga.

The book is subtitled A Vampire Satire but that isn’t wholly true. It is more an attack than satire; satire should be subtle whereas here the book is comprised more of  overtones and the obvious. I would much rather call Liquid Diet a sardonic satire, which I feel is more relevant.

I, for one, don’t have fun reading a satire that is glaringly obvious. I have fun hunting for the satire and then making the connection. If it is there in front of you I think it loses its purpose. But that is just my own humble opinion. To be fair I can’t see many people caring about that too much.

The Opposition To The Occult are fundamentalists and Liquid Diet is a satirical attack on fundamentalism in general, but more so domestically, which McCarty seems to think is more of a problem than international fundamentalism, and I can agree.

Maybe the message here is that America has more issues at home to sort out rather than trying to sort out others, because if you think about it, you can’t solve others’ issues if you haven’t even solved your own. What happens if your infrastructure collapses during the problem solving? You can’t then stop helping the others… well, you could, but it would be completely pointless.

All in all, Liquid Diet is a very fine piece of work that I wholeheartedly recommend to just about anyone who wants to read a novel that is: a) well written, and b) a nice little change from the usual run of the mill vampire lore, not just vampire lore but the use of radio as a medium which is definitely a nice change to see.

Simple yet fantastically detailed. Michael McCarty’s work deserves to be praised by fans of not just vampires, but of the horror community as well.

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