Friday, August 03, 2007

Live Girls – review

Author: Ray Garton

First Published: 1987

Contains spoilers

The Blurb:

On the hard-core street that never sleeps, Davy Owen is lured into the nightmare of the damned…

He’s lost his girl, blown his job, and he’s looking for consolation in the seedy precincts of New York’s Times Square. The flickering neon sign promising ‘Live Girls’ beckons Davey through its doors… into a world of strange savage ecstasy and the pale irresistible arms of a woman who offers him the kiss of demons in exchange for eternal life.

A woman so ravishing, so insaitiable, that he must say yes again and again until he can no longer say no. He has given her the vital essence of his body. Now she will devour his soul…

The review

I picked this up in a little second-hand book store and it proved to be a nice little find. The story itself is very simple, hence me supplying the blurb as it gives enough story without me spoiling it further. We are in the world of Davey Owen, and a few others, drawn into a vampiric nightmare centred around the Peep Joint called Live Girls and a more upmarket establishment, The Midnight Club.

As simple as the story proves itself to be, it doesn’t matter as Garton injects horror back into the genre in a tour de force of a novel that is injected with sleaze and gore. These are not fawning creatures of the night with poet souls and a degree in angst, these are predators, pure and simple.

That said, this does lead to the slight problem with the book, the fact that the main vampire, Shideh, is frustratingly two dimensional. The characterisation is around the mortals and the newly turned vampires and not with the vampires as a whole. Frustrating but also useful in painting an unknowable evil.

The vampires aren’t quite standard. Crosses mean nothing, though they are violently allergic to garlic. Conversely they only have a minor sensitivity to bright light. One of the most dangerous things for these vampires is impure blood, tainted by disease, frailty or chemicals it can do irreversible damage to their flesh, causing monstrous forms. Damage to the body can kill them, but it takes a lot and the older the vampire the more it takes. On death they revert to a rotten form.

An enjoyable romp, worth searching out and worth 7 out of 10.


Chick Young said...

Hellooooo Mate,

It's about time I chimed in on some of your PRODIGIOUS output in the Vampire genre. So, with this comment, I'll begin a dialogue of sorts with you on film, literature, other forms of media.

For my money, Garton's novel would rate closer to an 8.5 or 9 simply for its originality. To my knowledge, only Sturgeon's Some of Your Blood dealt with menstrual blood, and only obliquely. Garton assaults us with soo much carnal goodiness in this novel that I feel it was many giant leaps forward for the postmodern era of vampire fiction. It is pulpy and "low" and I think that's why I loved it so much. It flew in the face of Rice's high culture take on Gothicism. While I totally agree with your capsule and the cardboardy depiction of the major villianess, it was a page turner that combined lovely vampire lore with hyper-sexual driven tropes. The scene where Davey is first "bitten" or the scene where he goes "down" for a snack on Casey - wow, great stuff huh? Looking forward to reading more of your work!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hello to you Chick, many thanks for the comment. One of the reasons I started this blog was with the hope of getting dialogue started about the genre.

I see your point re the Menstrual Aspects. This is, of course, still very much a taboo subject for many folks - hence it probably isn't mentioned that often in the genre, certainly not as often as one would have thought.

I haven't read "Some of your Blood" - it is actualy sitting on my Amazon Wish List. It was added when Bret Wood mentioned it. He hinted towards the use of such a blood supply in his wonderful flick psychopathia sexualis. I should mention one film that I haven't reviewed yet that has a clear scene involving menstrual blood, Nadja. I am sure there are one or two others that are floating around the back of my mind that I can't quite rememeber right now!

I can also see your point regarding how this flew in the face of the Ricean high gothicness - take into context, however, that I read this for the first time just before reviewing it and so that corner had already been turned in the genre. Perhaps I missed the historical context somewhat.

However, sometimes you need pulp - which is why I love the Necroscope cannon so much. All pure pulp, all rip-roaring.

Chick Young said...


I couldn't agree more. I didn't make it too far into Lumley's series. I read the first two and a half books. I stalled in book three sadly (wasn't the book, just got too busy, this was maybe ten years ago too). I absolutely LOVED them. Lumley's take was such a breath of fresh air. Who would've thought that he could effectively pull off cold-war espionage, sci-fi, gothic horror, mystery, action, touch of romance here and there, police procedural, and on and on? Such tremendous work. Ever try and explain to someone the complex plot to Necroscope? It's not EASY! One day I will try and get to them all. Especially if you reccommend the whole series. Do you have a favorite in the series? Also, I was always VERY impressed with Robert McCammon's THEY THIRST. Ever read that one?

All the best

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I can't really pick a favourite in the necroscope stuff. The five books of the original series stay with me as the best.

I faltered a little with Vampire World, at first, mainly because of the setting - but soon got over that.

The Lost Years were great.

The E-Branch trilogy were good, but I missed Harry.

The latest book (The Touch) was very readable but didn't have vampires in it.

I have read 'they thirst' and did enjoy it. The beginning was, strangely, a lift from Alexis Tolstoy's 'The Family of the Vourdalak' but then he took the story into an apocalyptic direction that was great fun.