With the publication of Suckers, her darkly comic novel about terminally chic vampires in contemporary London, Anne Billson has been hailed in her native England by Salman Rushdie as "a superb satirist," and her book praised by The Times as "a frothy black comedy." Set at the end of the greed-is-good Eighties, Suckers features a classic and truly gothic love triangle: Dora, our sardonic heroine, who gets by as a "creative consultant" to the burgeoning fashion crowd; Duncan, a photographer with whom Dora has had a...
With the publication of Suckers, her darkly comic novel about terminally chic vampires in contemporary London, Anne Billson has been hailed in her native England by Salman Rushdie as "a superb satirist," and her book praised by The Times as "a frothy black comedy." Set at the end of the greed-is-good Eighties, Suckers features a classic and truly gothic love triangle: Dora, our sardonic heroine, who gets by as a "creative consultant" to the burgeoning fashion crowd; Duncan, a photographer with whom Dora has had a long-term infatuation even though it is less than mutual on Duncan's part; and Rose Murasaki, who used to be known as Violet, before Dora and Duncan felt compelled to chop her up into easily hidden pieces a decade earlier. But, impossibly, Violet is back as the frighteningly influential head of a publishing empire that promotes her own extreme sense of style. "Everywhere you looked, there would be women dressed in black-white faces, black hair, mouths painted scarlet. It was The Look." Despite the fact that black is back, however, Dora knows better than to follow the fashions of the times. And when she discovers an ominous takeover in the City that is not financial, and which has the support of a fleet of young professionals who have the taste for more than just BMWs and old-fashioned Bloody Marys, Dora knows she must stop them from satisfying their insatiable cravings. How to cope? "All the usual stuff," Dora suggests. "Don't invite anyone into your home. You know about the garlic, and some of you are already wearing crucifixes. Swot up on your Stoker. Watch some Christopher Lee." Above all else, Dora must use what she learned thirteen years ago to keep Violet/Rose from claiming her own eternal love: Duncan. A wicked and sassy first novel, Suckers will have readers thirsting for more from Anne Billson.
Yet another would-be satire of London's media swarm, this debut novel--which inexplicably caused Billson to be named among Britain's best young novelists earlier this year--is a tediously arch farrago whose less-than-inspired central conceit quickly wears thin. Magazine consultant Dora Vale and her erstwhile lover Duncan Fender have a creepy feeling that the vampire, Violet Westron, whom they had chopped into small pieces 13 years before, has returned as head of a multinational media conglomerate with designs on world domination. Of course it's true, and soon Dora finds herself alone against evil forces. Related in glib journalese, Billson's trite observations on contemporary pop culture are never toothsome or original enough to animate her moribund plot. Since Dracula and his ilk have always served as quite self-conscious symbols of cultural anxiety, the end-of-the-millennium-psychosis-blues that Suckers aspires to remain obdurately flat. Nasty and tasteless without being particularly shocking, silly without being very funny, the novel is--sharpened stakes and fangs notwithstanding--pointless and suprisingly lacking in bite; Suckers stands in sore need of a transfusion. (Oct.)
This British first novel tells the story of a very modern, very hip vampire hunter: Dora Vale, a cynical creative consultant who has managed to maintain a hopeful friendship with the love of her life, Duncan, despite his marriage to air-brained model Lulu and his infatuation with a 300-year-old beauty called Violet. Thirteen years ago, Dora and Duncan drove a stake through Violet's heart, but now she has returned, with an entire vampire network behind her. Weary of persecution, the bloodsuckers have decided to make England ``a haven where they can live and hunt in safety . . . just a smoothly run economy and specialized catering facilities.'' Hard-boiled Dora smart-mouths her way through one dangerous confrontation after another as she tries to save England and rescue the unworthy Duncan from a seduction for which he seems all too eager. Deliciously skewering the art and business scenes as well as the yuppies who are the vampires' prime targets, this surprisingly down-to-earth supernatural romp is highly recommended.-- A.M.B. Amantia, Population Action International, Washington, D.C.