My family sent me four postcards from their
camping vacation in the Northwest. There were pictures of mountain
wildflowers sent from Kootenay Lake in British Columbia, the
Athabasca Glacier and bears from Alberta, and, back in the USA, a
twilight beach scene from Forks, Wash.
Make that a "Twilight" beach scene. My 9-year-old
grandchildren had special vacation requests: Aidan needed a place to
skateboard down mountain paths, and Maya wanted to visit the
vampirish place where Hollywood filmed her favorite books by
I understood this, as I always wanted to visit
the New Orleans Garden District where Ann Rice's vampire, Lestat,
When I was visiting their Nevada home in May, I
introduced the twins to the CW's (Channel 56 here in Boston)
"Vampire Diaries," just ending its first year.
I explained that "Stefan's brother Damon appears
to be the villain of the series, but we could be surprised; Elena
looks exactly like the brothers' love interest in the 19th century,
who is now a vampire; Bonnie is Elena's best friend and a witch. Pay
attention, kids, or how are you going to continue watching this
after I go home?"
The twins were raised without television, except
for the piece of furniture that played movies from the rental store.
But the family got cable last year to watch the Olympics.
I thought the parental no-TV-and-commercialism
decision was somewhat extreme at first, but came to appreciate it as
so many offerings, especially reality TV, got more and more weird
during the early years of their lives.
However, it was relaxing last winter not having
to watch the Olympics with a clicker at the ready, taking out the
commercials, while recording gymnastics and snowboarding for them.
Now my grandson, clicker attached to hand, takes out all commercials
while flipping channels at a speed I thought impossible to human
"Aidan, go back to the CW, the show's on again.
If I have to come over there ...! Give me that clicker!"
No, I'm not afraid that vampire shows will scare
them. I caught them watching an "Animal Planet" segment about a pet
panther ripping off his owner's scalp.
They've read about and seen the Dementors who
inhabit Harry Potter's world. These are the scariest creatures in
literature, eating happiness, draining all hope from the human
consciousness, rather like the Obama administration, but we don't
talk politics with the children, at least when their parents are
I think "The Vampire Diaries" may have actually
been a bit tame for them. I'm glad they don't have HBO because I
wouldn't want them watching "True Blood" instead. That one's too
bloody and intense even for me, not to mention complicated. Watching
vampires, shapeshifters, and werewolves interacting, fine; but now
we find out Sookie's a fairy? (OK, maybe I do watch it sometimes.)
I really like "Moonlight," the other CW series
about a vampire cop. It's currently in reruns to get viewers
acquainted with the leading actor who will be starring this fall in
the remake of "Hawaii Five-0," so I'm watching it for the second
time, immediately after watching summer reruns of "Vampire Diaries."
I think I just miss Lestat, my favorite literary
protagonist, who retired from vampirism after becoming a Christian
or something and was last seen curled up on a marble floor, asleep.
I do have a new favorite literary protagonist,
similarly strange, in Lisbeth Salander of the Stieg Larsson series,
which starts with "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." I'm eternally
grateful to Bob Hugo, owner of the Spirit of '76 bookstore in
Marblehead, for recommending this to me as it began its
word-of-mouth journey through the fiction-reading public.
Though Chip makes fun of me for always handing
him "the best book I've ever read," he liked the series too; and my
son is just starting it. Not for the twins, yet; much too dark, too
much about the real evil in the world which — who knew? — resides in
Though not about vampires, the "Girl" books
clarify to me why I love the living dead, like Lisbeth. They are
survivors, who enjoy life amidst the darkness of their
In "Tale of the Body Thief," Lestat makes his
existential statement: "Our tiny planet ... held together not by
will or faith or communal ambition but by some dreamy capacity of
the world's millions to be oblivious to life's tragedies and sink
again and again into happiness — as if happiness were as natural to
all beings as hunger. ... I was too full of joy and dark bitter
triumph. I was Lestat, drifting between heaven and hell, and content
to be so."
I am content to know that sharing my favorite
books with my grandchildren gives me a touch of vampire-like
immortality. Someday Maya will inherit my Rice books, along with
"Anne of Green Gables" and the Janet Ivanovich novels.
Aidan reads well, too, and especially liked "The
Lightning Thief," about Greek gods in modern times, which I sent him
after enjoying it myself. But Greek gods are a subject for another
column, after the Revolution 2010 election banishes the Dementors
and brings back real hope.