I have the honour to call Ulysses Dietz, a Facebook friend. He is also a reviewer here on this site and shares my enjoyment of a certain British author’s work. His reviews are beautifully worded and make me ‘up my game’, which I love. This is Ulysses’ first published novel and at first I was surprised that it was a vampire novel however, knowing Ulysses’ work and passions, the vampire genre is a perfect fit for him. Below is what I discovered in his novel;
Desmond Beckwith is not a happy man. A financial wizard with an international investment empire, he’s also in love with his lifelong-but-straight friend Roger. At forty-five, in spite of a circle of supportive friends and an elegant New York townhouse full of antiques, he feels isolated and cut off from humankind.
And with good reason. Desmond Beckwith is a two-hundred-fifty-year-old vampire. For nearly two centuries he has lived in New York, looking vainly for love and seeking to satisfy his twin thirsts for blood and sex in those places where men of his kind have always met to find release and solace.
Into Desmond’s sheltered, lonely world stumbles Tony Chapman, an unemployed museum curator, down on his luck and one step away from being out on the streets. Brutalized by the unforgiving nature of New York City, Tony is on the edge of despair when he meets this darkly handsome older man in the smoky dimness of a Greenwich Village bar. To their mutual astonishment, Tony proceeds to turn Desmond’s protected little world on its head, and to unlock pieces of Desmond’s past lives and loves that were deeply buried in Desmond’s memory.
Desmond and I agree when he says,
… I don’t demand great literature, but I do want good stories well told. They may not make it to the classics, but they make magic for their readers.
I believe, with a few reservations that the author made magic in this novel. If you wish all your vampire’s to sparkle in the sunlight or turn to stone with ennui for centuries, this novel is not for you. If you require explicit gay sex again this novel is not for you although there is sex. If however, you want beautiful prose crafted with love about love and informed with a passion for the past and the human spirit, then this novel is most definitely for you. Here I come to my main reservation and I believe Ulysses knows, what my reservation will be. There is a lot of description and whilst some of it sets a wonderfully atmospheric scene,
The library had grown dim with the setting sun, lit only by the fire now. It illuminated the deep, figured green carpet, the tufted leather on the high pointed backs of the armchairs, that Desmond had so carefully kept, and renewed, over the years.The octagonal center table, it’s marble top the same color as that of the bar table and chimney piece…
Ulysses’ description of Desmond‘s house, which is incredible, goes on for too long. This could be a problem if the reader is not interested in antiques and historical ephemera. In another publication, the descriptions of houses, antiques and treasures would be feted. In a vampire novel, they slow the narrative down too much, having said this I did enjoy much of the descriptive writing but found it distracted from the flow of the story.
Desmond is a two hundred years plus vampire whose,
…possessions were a shelter for his past; his house was the shelter of his present…His memories were stored in his things, as if they were dry-cell batteries he could reach for should his energy start to fade.
Into his life comes a handsome, intelligent, young man, Tony, who is almost homeless and desperate. Desmond sees Tony, initially, as a donor of red corpuscles but is attracted and intrigued by this young man beyond his usual non committal feelings with his ‘tricks’and he reminds him of his one love, who he lost. Desmond cannot dismiss Tony from his life easily and the more he knows him, the more Tony becomes an important part of his hitherto isolated existence.
Every sixty-five years, vampires must regenerate back to the age they were turned, which for Desmond was twenty-one. Why he was turned, who turned him and why he has never had a deep love affair, since he was made into a vampire, we find out through his memories and stories. These start to be unlocked during his growing relationship with Tony, during the late 1980’s overshadowed by the AIDS crisis in New York, when Desmond is in his mid-forties. This regeneration cycle creates much of the complication and turmoil in the vampire’s life and underpins much of the story. As I mentioned sex is a part of this novel in that blood and sex are absolute needs that continue whatever the century. The sex is in the novel is ‘gentlemanly’, maybe a little shyly written but conveys tenderness and love.
Their lovemaking was like a spring breeze to Desmond’s winter-bruised soul.They romped happily and intensely until both were exhausted and content. Tony lay back on the huge square pillows, dreamily running the back of his hand up and down Desmond’s stomach…
Another .5 of a star was maybe lost because even in a gentleman such as Desmond, sex at times needs to be sweaty and visceral and abandoned. However, more wonderful pluses come from the amazing descriptions of the events in Desmond‘s life, which included living in and through Paris in the ‘Reign of Terror’,
…the city of Diderot became a den of political intrigue and public betrayal. The Age of Reason became the Age of Madness…
and during these hostile events Desmond reveals a brave nature in his actions even though he asserts that,
Despite this inhuman power, he shunned danger; the pain had been human enough…
I love Ulysses’ Desmond because despite being told in many vampire novels that they are supremely intelligent and have lived hundreds of years, their intelligence is rarely shown and they have few stories and no character development to sustain their superiority. Ulysses vampire is shown to be intelligent, describes wonderful historical events, has a profundity above the norm. He is remarkably believable and deals with the basics of a unique life in a very creative and sustainable way. Yes, the novel needs less by way of descriptions of antiques and a bit more passion in the bedroom but I would read this novel again just to reread, the intelligent writing.
I shall be reviewing the sequel to ‘Desmond’ in a few weeks and I shall be very interested to see how the author’s style has changed and what has happened to Desmond who, by the end of this novel had become a dear friend.
I would like to thank Ulysses Dietz for the Review Copy in exchange for my honest review
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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