Stainless: A Modern Romance (Todd Grimson)


Vampires are hard pressed to be new and exciting. Where Dracula is outdated, Stainless is cutting edge. Where Todd Grimson is subtle and poetic, Anne Rice would be overtly heavy handed. Where this book shines, so would characters from Poppy Z Brite’s “Exquisite Corpse”. This book is not for all readers, it is dark. sexual (often disturbingly), and not handed to readers on a platter.
This book is not so much a Vampire novel as it is a highly readable analysis of human tragedy. Originally published in 1996, Grimson’s Stainless is a jewel in the vamp genre that appears to have been overlooked as a just another piece of pretty glass. It seems to have aged perfectly, coming back into print with a fist-full of mid-1990′s authenticity; Where characters still listen to tape cassettes along side compact discs, and Godflesh is still an industrial/metal band whose name is recognized. Because of the time-capsule effect and the concise wording, this book really shines as something different than the norm on the market today. The same authenticity lended to it by age differentiates it from modern works trying to ride a hipster trend of anachronistic verbiage.. You read this book and it IS 1996 again.
The story itself is nothing new. What is different here is the writing style and the approach.
Vampire, vamp thrall, insert some conflict here, but instead of inflated undead ego or a sparkly love story, you have something a bit unusual. Stainless follows (in most areas) Justine and Keith. Justine is a vampire of unknown age. She is essentially illiterate, immigrated to the US from France, and has a tough time remembering the details of her life, whether by age or the trauma of non-life it is unclear.. She is stuck in survival mode, moving day to day and attempting to remain detached from what she has become.
Keith is a broken man, alive in Los Angeles, guitarist from a now defunct band, his ex-girlfriend dead in South America by suicide. Gangsters have broken all his finger bones, destroying his career. Keith is not a standard Thrall. He helps here even when she is not lording over his consciousness with a hypnotic leash. He has no desire to become immortal, he does not want money or power, all he wants to do is learn more about this undead woman that pays him attention.
Justine, likewise is not the standard vamp. Sure, she has all the conscience issues associated with modern vampire “soul investigation”, but it is not all encompassing. She is written in a manner that makes her shuffle between hot and cold personalities, sometimes caring for others, and often full predatory disregard. She refuses to kill or turn Keith, fascinated by his seemingly suicidal relationship with an arbitrary bearer of death.
The novel is primarily from the perspective of non-vampire humans who are involved, though some chapters focus from an undead POV. In all cases, the text can vary from beautifully descriptive to stuttering and disjointed. This stylization depends entirely on the character and his/her/it’s mindset or occasionally tenuous grasp on reality.
Other characters exist as well, but will not be mentioned here except that one or two of then are just damned evil..
Certain sections of this book were highly quotable
Excerpt, Keith on the topic of his venomous black congealed blood filled killing machine of a girlfriend’s possibility of having a soul:
It is not a modern question, this consideration of soul. He leaves behind in an instant the nervous irreverence with which one might ordinarily banter about such an unknowable, metaphysical concept– he finds within himself an uneasy but hard-core reverence that he can connect to Justine like a sticky tentacle answering her need.
New paperback edition of this book goes on sale in February, distributed by Schaffner Press.
If you prefer the original cover, or would like it sooner/cheaper, copies from the 1990′s can still be found via Amazon “On-The-Cheap”. It’s worth the cost of a new book however, and you would be supporting a?small publishing* (edit- correction) house, so get the nice and shiny new version. They use such high quality materials that the ink is incredibly bold, the page incredibly white, and the lettering is able to be felt by bare fingers on each page.. Pretty awesome all in all from a reading aesthetic ?perspective.


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This review is based on a book kindly provided for free by the publisher or author. Please check my FTC Douche-claimer for details regarding this disclaimer’s existence.

Comments

  1. [...] saw another great review for Stainless, this time coming from Portlander Jason Fnord of the website Fnord Incorporated.  And we quote, “Vampires are hard pressed to be new and exciting. Where Dracula is [...]

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