30 May 2010
"The Monster Hunter In Modern Popular Culture"
I suppose it's bad form or improper to offer an opinion on a book when you haven't actually finished reading it, but in the case of Heather L. Duda's "The Monster Hunter In Modern Popular Culture", I'm not even halfway done and I can already recommend it. And with a title like that, how could I not like it?
The book is an adaptation of Duda's PhD thesis (even though she's not called "Doctor" Heather Duda, or have the "PhD" after her name on the cover, I'm certain she earned it!).
I was worried that it would be a "heavy read", like Bruce McClelland's invaluable "Slayers and Their Vampires" but it's actually an entertaining and informative book that isn't heavy on obscure folklore. Instead, Duda analyzes the monster hunter (concentrating mostly on the vampire hunter) as depicted and portrayed in fiction and cinema. From Van Helsing to Buffy, the author guides the reader through the evolution and development of the monster hunter character over the past few decades.
The author's encyclopedic knowledge of Gothic and Horror fiction and movies, from Stoker's Dracula through the modern slasher movie, earn her a position among "people I'd really like to hang out with". (when I finish the book, I am SO gonna stalk her! Just kidding, but I will try to let her know how much I enjoyed the book!)
Since the book concentrates on the vampire hunter, some of my faves are left out. No Winchesters, no Bobby Singer, and alas, no Burt Gummer. :( But Duda does include the vigilantes of graphic novels (Dark Knight, League Of Etxraordinary Gentlemen, Watchmen) and anime (Inouyasha, Vampire Hunter D) as examples of how the monster hunter has changed over time.
If you're a writer of Gothic/horror fiction (*ahem!*) you'll find some great insights into the monster hunter character as differentiated from the "classic hero". And anyone who's a fan of the genre will find it an interesting read.
Here's a link to an interview with the author with more information than I can post here.