Reading in Progress: Dracula and Happy Halloween

Dracula - Bram Stoker

I have about three books of ghost stories I need to add to the shelves (and review), but at the moment I have a terrible attack of book laziness going on. That's why short stories have been great reading - I'm in one of my times where it's hard for me to stick with the same book for long. Which is actually NOT a good time to start reading Dracula, because unless you're really invested in it there are definitely some parts of the  book that draaaaaag on a bit. You know, one of those times when you, the reader, just want to give a particular character a shake and say "Just open that door already! Or run! Pick an action and DO it!"


The reason I picked this up now though - well, of course, it's seasonal. Also because I picked it up and remembered I'd not read this Norton Critical Edition, and it's been a good decade or two since I read the book anyway. We'll see what my reaction is this time around, and if I make it through without skimming.


Meanwhile let's talk about why I bought this edition in the first place:


1) David J. Skal is one of the editors, and I highly recommend his book Monster Show, A Cultural History of Horror, which does a great job of discussing films and the historical periods in which they were created. It was the textbook for a horror film class I took and ever since I've made a habit of picking up any of Skal's books. (They're not all equally as good, but I'd say all are interesting. But then, they're all about a genre I'm really into, so I would say that.)


2) There are footnotes! This is great for me, having already read the book, but I'm thinking for spoiler purists there might be some annoyances. For example:


p 10, the text:

"...the Wallachs, the descendants of the Dacians."

Dacians is footnoted (number 3):

"Dacia, whose area corresponds roughly to twentieth century Romania, became a province of the Roman Empire under Emperor Trajan in AD 105. As late as June 1995, a Romanian patriot boasted in a letter to the New York Times of his Roman heritage, scrupulously differentiating Romanians from the "Romanay Gypsies" who, in Dracula, prove to be treacherous allies of the vampire."

I don't think that's a huge spoiler, but then if you've seen any vampire or horror films there really aren't many plot spoilers left. The only thing that could be a surprise in reading Dracula now is where the films have deviated from or stayed true to the book. But this is definitely the kind of book where reading any of the preface and additional material will be full of plot summary and citations. Of course, that's kind of par for the course when "Norton Critical Edition" is on the cover.


3) There is a huge chunk of additional material in this book, aside from the text and footnotes. The story of Dracula ends at page 327, and then there are about 150 pages of essays under the headings: Contexts, Reviews and Reactions (five book reviews from periodicals of the 1890s), Dramatic and Film Variations, and Criticism. This is primarily why I bought this edition because I do love a good essay on this subject.


[Want to read Dracula right now? I just bumped into this site, but only took a glimpse: The Dracula Project - it seems to be an online annotated edition.]


So that's what I'm perusing on this Halloween early-eve. I'm also keeping my eye on the candy bowl, knowing that the odds are very high that there will be many leftovers there later in the evening. (Kids don't seem to trick or treat much in our area. It probably helps that we don't decorate the exterior of our house though.)


I'd hoped to get motivated to review some of the ghostish stuff I've been reading before this week but nah, apparently the lazy reading habits have also drained my reviewing motivation too. But that just means my Halloweenish subjects will carry on into November, and since Dia de los Muertos lasts til the 2nd, that's excuse enough to carry it into the next month entirely.


Randomly, in the 1980s, I lived on a street named Sleepy Hollow. Across the street from us was a park in which there was an old stone bridge. Most Halloweens someone would smash a pumpkin on it. Now that's seasonal!


Speaking of which, I would love Sleepy Hollow's Tom Mison to give me driving directions. But I can't find that application option anywhere and I suspect that Waze social GPS may not be the same Waze app. Also it would be wildly distracting to have a great voice giving directions, and I'm easily distracted as it is. But I do love the idea.


(Odd thing - this post was stuck in drafts until I figured out that Booklikes thinks it's 4pm-ish where I am instead of 5pm-ish. And yup, my settings are correct for the US time zone I'm in. I'm figuring it's web gremlins to blame.)