As usual, when life gets stressful, I take refuge in books. Right now I’m reading the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer. I love books about vampires. I was really into the Ann Rice novels—such elegant vampires with such poetic and philosophical musings, not to mention an eroticism that was creepy and compelling. In the end vampire stories all seem to be about sex dressed up in gothic clothes with nowhere to go.
The Twilight series is about a teenage girl, Bella, and a vampire boy, Edward, who fall desperately in love. And I do mean desperately—teen love ramped up and kicked into overdrive. Then the novel piles on the complications, misunderstandings, danger and conflict. It’s all very Wuthering Heights, although Catherine would think Bella a wimp, and I always thought Catherine and Heathcliff were so immensely unpleasant that I grew impatient with the sturm and drang.. The books refer to both Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet a lot, which is apt, since Bella and Edward think their lives will end without each other, which they demonstrate with much dramatic hullaballoo. Really, this is fabulous. I love this kind of stuff, even if Bella is a spineless masochist and Edward is unrelentingly gorgeous, annoyingly noble. They can’t do much in the way of physical contact, since his kiss could kill her. Talk about repression. Bella does a lot of swooning and Edward seems to be in a constant state of anguish trying to keep from loving her to death. Interesting, huh? He loves her so much his impulse is to kill her. Of course he doesn’t want to—it’s his biology he’s resisting. Well, I wouldn’t look too closely at the male/female dynamics here—it spoils the fun and critics are so tiresome when they start berating books for not being feminist enough. (I read one such criticism and wondered if the reviewer thought it would be best not to read Dickens because his female characters are ridiculous. But I could go into a long diatribe about those who think we should read only what’s proper and healthy for us in order to maintain a good literary hygiene.) There’s a werewolf vying for her affections as well. Talk about a tumultuous romantic life. As I said, vampire novels seem to be about desire that is never satisfied, which doesn’t really want to be satisfied because the tension of not being satisfied is so intoxicating.
There are other vampires out to get Bella, so you’d think Edward would just turn her into one to protect her, but he refuses. Why? Well, because if he didn’t there wouldn’t be a story, now would there? The moment they’re on an equal footing, the plot will have to find a new focus. Oh, and the werewolf is bound by pack law to kill any vampire who bites a human, so it looks like we’ve got a damned if you do damned if you don’t situation (ha ha). I have one more book of tortured indecision before the grand finale (coming out in August), and I think I’m 39th on the waiting list at our library. Edward, for pete’s sake turn her into a vampire already and hightail it out of werewolf territory. After a while a tortured conscience just gets boring. Bella, you’re going to have to decide between the vampire and the werewolf and just deal with it. If you want to be a vampire so badly, get one of the others to change you. Sheesh. It’s not like Edward is the only vampire in town.