Drawing Blood – Poppy Z. Brite

Evening Star Books – 1993

I had read two Poppy Z. Brite books before starting Drawing Blood. While I enjoyed both Lost Souls and Swamp Foetus, I also felt that I would have enjoyed them even more if I had encountered them when I was younger. I felt the same way about Drawing Blood for the first few chapters. I kept telling my wife how much I was enjoying it. The story set up was weird, but it had a queer computer hacker, a haunted house, and a stripper in a Ministry t-shirt. Things were off to a very good start.

When Trevor was just a little kid, his dad went nuts and killed his whole family in a house in the small town of Missing Mile. As an adult, Trevor goes back to this house to confront his past. When he’s there, he meets Zach, a hacker who is on the run from the government. They fall madly in love with each other, but before they run away together, they try to come to terms with Trevor’s past.

Unfortunately, I found the second half of the book almost unbearable. The following paragraphs contain spoilers, so skip to the last paragraph if you’re planning to read the book.

I am a prude, and I don’t like extended descriptions of sex, straight or gay. There’s some pretty long sex scenes here. I’m sure these are really great for some readers, but I didn’t like them.

I didn’t like the fact that the climax of book occurred while the protagonists were tripping on mushrooms. I’ve read and enjoyed plenty of books about drug users and their experiences, but it felt a bit cheap for the resolution of the story to take place while the characters were high on psychedelics. They witnessed poltergeist activity in real life, and the drug trip at the end felt gratuitous and unsatisfying.

There’s a long, unnecessary scene in which Zach becomes a singer in a local rock band and plays a concert. This dude is on the run, and he agrees to perform his first concert ever. It turns out he is actually a rock god, and he gives the performance of a lifetime. This was entirely unbelievable and painfully cringey. Even as I teenager this would have made me balk. Thinking about it now is making me uncomfortable.

At the end of the book, the two protagonists escape from the United States and go and live in Jamaica. Yes, the two gay men go and live happily in Jamaica. One of them grows dreads, and they spend their days singing reggae and smoking weed with the Rastas. Makes sense, right? I mean, if Jamaica is known for anything, it’s the fact that it’s a living paradise for homosexuals.

I know some people love this book, but I found it very disappointing. I’m a straight guy in my late 30s, so I’m not the target audience for this work, but that didn’t stop me enjoying Lost Souls and Swamp Foetus. Drawing Blood was just a little too vampirefreaks.com for me. That said, I will defintely be reading Brite’s novel Exquisite Corpse in the future.,

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