Thursday, November 19, 2009

Deluxe Transitive Vampire

I'm always looking for different ways to discover interesting books to read. On top of that, I'm in a bit of a reading rut (and going through my old blogs and journals over the years suggests I have some sort of Thanksgiving Seasonal Affective Reading Disorder). I haven't been able to figure out what appeals to me, in part because I'm focused on the end of the semester and all that good stuff. So I've been looking for suggestions and coming up with some goofy ideas (you'll see in future posts).

Ze Frank asked readers of his website for reading suggestions. I offered up Toby Barlow's Sharp Teeth and took a gander at the list myself. After reading the list (and I'm not linking to it for your sake), my first thought was "Wow, Ze has a lot of fans who are taking AP English". I think at least half the books on the list I read when I was in high school. Most of the others I have seen on high school reading lists here. Folks, there is better literature out there than Of Mice and Men.

Despite my observation, I was intrigued enough by a couple appearances on the list of a book entitled, The Deluxe Transitive Vampire. I should have realized I was on the money with my perception of Ze's fan base. This book, if it has a target audience, is the high school student learning about English. It's a nice primer on sentence construction, nouns, verbs, adverbs and all that jazz. it is illustrated with a bunch of gothic pictures from other texts, often cobbled together to form goofy scenarios.

The reason I say "If it has a target audience" is because the book reminded me of a business law professor I once had. This professor enjoyed (WAY too much) illustrating cases using characters from Beatrix Potter stories. "Let's say Jemimah Puddle Duck has sued Peter Cottontail for breach of contract...". He would go on and on and you could see him getting lost in the story. It felt like he was telling the stories to entertain himself rather than teach us.

I felt the same way with this book. The pictures, but especially the examples, on the surface seem designed to appeal to the younger folks. But after a while you think the author was doing it for the kicks and heck if anyone ever reads it.

Examples of examples?
The way you're wearing those pajamas is bound to give the sandman pause.
The barber who found the nose in his croissant never did get along with his wife.
We waltzed Lisztlessly.
This wildebeest is swifter than that jellyfish on wheels.
That cat who's checking out the back room says he's here on a divine mission.

And so on and so on. They are charming at first, then quirky, then irritating.

If you have a high school student that is struggling with getting the whole language thing down pat, or even a junior high student who is an aspiring writer, this might be a worthwhile book to pick up. For the vast majority of folk, I don't see it being of any value as a tool or entertainment.

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