Saturday, November 24, 2007

Riding Along With Vlad

From the very first line of the first chapter of The Dead Travel Fast (Thomas Dunne Books, 242 pages), pop culture commentator Eric Nuzum tells us what kind of ride this is going to be: “Watching my own blood drip down the bathroom mirror, there’s only one thought running through my head: In a lifetime of questionable decision making, this is not one of my finer moments.”

This is not your usual coffeetable-style peek at something offbeat. Nuzum immerses himself in this topic, walking the walk so completely, sometimes you just want to shut your eyes.

Nuzum heads out on the trail of the vampire myth and comes up with some surprises. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a vampire hunting journey if at some point he didn’t head for Transylvania. He does this a group of 25 “vampire enthusiasts on a Dracula-themed tour.” The tour even boasts a celebrity host: Butch Patrick, whose fans will remember him as Eddie Munster.

The Dead Travel Fast: Stalking Vampires from Nosferatu to Count Chocula is often funny, sometimes frightening and occasionally even sweet. Nuzum has the knack for finding both humor and humanity in the most unlikely places. Nuzum could develop into the Paul Theroux or the Bill Bryson of his era. Though he is an accomplished writer and a Murrow Award-winning reporter, The Dead Travel Fast is only Eric Nuzum’s second book (after 2001’s Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America). But you get to understand very quickly that this is a writer of merit. I suspect he has many stories still to tell and many journeys to make. I’ll buckle up and tag along: this is a writer you want to follow anywhere.



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