Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Short Story: Juvenal Nyx by Walter Mosley

The next tale in my very slow reading of the Stories anthology, edited by Al Sarrontonio and Neil Gaiman, is this disturbing offering from Walter Mosley.

Our protagonist is something of a young revolutionary, spending his evenings at political and underground meetings, when one night he meets a mysterious pale-faced woman. Within a few hours he has been lured back to her place for some wild sex, and very soon finds himself tied to the bed in an underground chamber while the woman, who is of course a vampire, feeds on his flesh.

What ensues is a rather messy tale relating our hero's life as a bloodsucking denizen of the night. He bites people, he gets an unconventional new career, some mysterious things happen, a monster makes a pointless cameo appearance, nothing is resolved by the end of the story and the whole thing feels like a bit of an aimless ramble.

Maybe I'm being overly critical? Yes, I'm sure I must be. It's hard for me to remain objective as the whole sexy vampire genre is one I have never quite "got". It feels like Anne Rice started a bandwagon that grew to epic proportions after Twilight was published, and now legions of writers are clamouring to jump aboard with all sorts of drivel. Or am I just getting old and grumpy? Probably.

That being said, I like to think I would never dismiss a story out of hand because I don't like the genre. Indeed, the first story in this anthology - Blood by Roddy Doyle - is also a vampire tale, but done in such an original way that even a card-carrying vampire sceptic like me couldn't help loving it. But even as I try to set aside my own personal hang-ups concerning the genre, I have other gripes with Juvenal Nyx. It doesn't really go anywhere, and the action scenes seem tacked on merely to provide some thrills (they could easily be removed without affecting the main plot one iota). The writing itself is technically okay, but the use of a lot of short choppy sentences meant it never flowed very well for me.

It's not all bad, and there are even a few flashes of excellence in some of the more descriptive passages, but Juvenal Nyx does suffer in comparison to the other stories in this anthology, which are generally of a much higher standard. I'm afraid it's thumbs down on this one.


  1. I know what you mean. Writers it feels often use vampires, werewolves and zombies in a gimmicky way. It's like a fad these days, and they get lazy. They think that if one of these creatures is in their story then they're set.

  2. We are in complete agreement! ;-)