Reading "Reading the Vampire Slayer"
|Title:||Reading "Reading the Vampire Slayer"|
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Reading "Reading the Vampire Slayer" is an essay by Sunka. It is a book review of Reading the Vampire Slayer: An Unofficial Critical Companion to Buffy and Angel edited by Roz Kaveney (2001).
"What happens when a new fan of the Jossverse gets ahold of some essays about the Jossverse?"
So... I'm a recent fan of the Whedon Universe. And as I've discovered there are no casual watchers of the show. You're either in or you're not. So I'm in. In a big way. And what do I do as I wait for the next new episode of Angel? Read spoilers? No way. I have friends who have been in the fandom longer than me, and they buy books.
The first book I read about Buffy/Angel was "Reading the Vampire Slayer." I was surprised at how quickly I read it. It's true, I have always read a lot; I'm one of those people who have 4 or 6 books on the go at once. This particular book I read without reaching for one of the others. It's a collection of essays written by fans of the show who are from a wide variety of backgrounds, mostly academic. There is a research associate, a teacher, an administrator and a journalist, and others. They all approach Buffy and Angel from their own experience. If you haven't seen up to Buffy season 5 and Angel season 2, let me warn you that the whole book is a spoiler. As I'm now into multiple watchings of both shows I found these essays engrossing.
The book begins with an essay by Kaveney called "'She saved the world. A lot': An introduction to the themes and structures of Buffy and Angel". Kaveney takes us through both shows, one season at a time, while adopting the role of the tour guide who points out major themes and how various characters move the universe along.
One of my favourite things about the Whedon Universe is how they (the writers) never shy away from popular mythology. We all know that there are many views of how Vampires are, the myth vs "reality" of the undead (if there is such a thing). On Buffy the challenge was met head on when they began season five with 'Buffy vs. Dracula' (5.1). An open acknowledgement of how Vampires are viewed outside the Buffy and Angel fandom. Wilcox has written an essay called "Laugh, spawn of hell, laugh" where he begins his look at humour in the Buffy world by examining the famous Dracula/Xander exchange where Xander is invited to be the emissary of Dracula. My favourite writers are those who are able to lower our defenses through laughter and slip in a message while we're picking ourselves up off the floor. This might also be why my favourite comedians are those who kiss the edge of darkness every time they do a show. Wilcox examines some of the funnier moments in the Buffy universe, but those of us who watch religiously know that there are too many such moments to document in one small essay.The essay that stayed with me the most after finishing the book was "Concentrate on the kicking movie. Buffy and East Asian cinema" by Dave West. As a film geek I have always loved action and well choreographed fight scenes in movies, but I never really paid much attention to how all these ideas come together. West explores how the martial arts in East Asian films differ from North American notions of martial arts. There was also information about some of the stunt doubles that have worked in the Whedon Universe. Let's all agree that when you can spot the stunt doubles vs. the actor in a fight sequence, you have watched the episode more than once. It was great to get West's view of the scenes I had been enjoying.