Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Juvenal Nyx" by Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley is most well-known for his detective fiction and the like, but in this case we have something akin to a vampire story.

So far this was by far my least favorite story in Stories. The strength of it, however, lies in the mythology of the creatures that, for lack of a better word, are vampires. They drink blood, they are paralyzed by sunlight, they can command humans using their voice. Very Bram Stoker-y.

But then there are some key differences. (Please pardon this digression, for I am a sucker for discussing the minutiae of various mythologies.) These vampires bite not by using either extendable or extended canines (a.k.a. "fangs"), but by an extendable tooth in their lower jaw that humans simply don't have. Therefore, these vampires leave just a single, tiny prick in the victim. Furthermore, these vampires are drawn to procreate (see, "create a new blood-sucker") by the smell of the intended progeny. This smell is so strong that the vampire falls in love. Then, because the creator will just keep drinking from their newly-created lover until said lover is dry as dust, the creator must abandon its creation.

To be fair, this is another story that feels like Mosley was working on creating a world for a novel. Too many characters for a short story. Too many undeveloped details.

More importantly, the story itself fizzles around the middle. The pace of it bogs down. It loses direction and strangely morphs into a new love story. Then Mosley (misguidedly) attempts to transform the character into a philanthropist, then (if the latter two diversions weren't enough) it ends with a subterranean hunt for a supernatural dog-rat-beast. The end itself feels tacked on to create a pseudo-circular story, too neatly ending precisely the way it began.

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