This is a story of one of the oddest twelve-step groups around. A mildly supernatural, sensual story of twelve vampires in San Francisco trying to kick their habit of drinking blood. The vampires of this world are mostly human, but get a special high, and some super powers, from drinking blood, especially the blood of infants.
This book is really about addiction. The main difference is that instead of getting high on alcohol or drugs, these vampires get high on blood -- the ultimate aphrodisiac.
The main character of the book is an openly gay male vampire named Nick Santos. After getting off of blood himself, he attempts to help other vampires do the same using a 12-step program, Vampires Anonymous.
Gay and lesbian sex and desire occur in many central and secondary characters. Nick has even had a sexual relationship with the main male villain of the story.
While the story is somewhat unusual (though a gay Vampire Anonymous group has already been done in the book appropriately titled Vampires Anonymous), it is fairly long and repetitive, but there are enough twists and turns to make it bearable, if not enjoyable.
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With this wryly horrific riff on self-help programs, Nasaw (Shakedown Street, 1993) joins the burgeoning ranks of writers who pick up echoes of vampirism in the rhythms of everyday relationships. His bloodsuckers are respectable citizens of El Cerrito, Calif., who treat their thirst as an addiction they can kick through weekly meetings of Vampires Anonymous (V.A.), which recovering vampire Nick Santos conducts like any other 12-step program. Complications arise when Jamey Whistler, a member of V.A. who sees its approach as cultlike, secretly begins to undermine the organization. V.A. is by no means a new concept (Jeffrey McMahan made it the focus of his 1991 satire, Vampires Anonymous), but Nasaw uses it to address the bigger issue of the consequences of a permissive society. With great dexterity, he choreographs scenes of Nick and Jamey's vamp. vs. vamp tango around chapters from Nick's gestating book, The World on Blood, an account of gay vampire life in San Francisco's Castro district in the 1970s. V.A. is portrayed as Nick's sobering wake-up call from his promiscuous lifestyle, and America's rush toward self-help movements as the inevitable response to decades of hedonistic self-indulgence. Vivid characters who veer between the comic and the tragic keep the preachiness at bay, gleefully underscoring the irony of a society seemingly addicted to anti-addiction therapies. Literary Guild selection.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Booklist 03/01/1996
Nasaw showcases the world's and the Bay Area's weirdest 12-step, self-help group: vampires. In other respects, they are just normal boomers trying to kick an addiction. The group contains two poles of power: leader Nick Santos and dissenter James Whistler. Their conflict drives the action as Whistler subverts the group by getting the members, one by one, to drink blood again. Reason? It makes for ecstatic sex, spun out here in all forms save those involving animals. Even babies enter the breathy fray, not as principals to be sure (Nasaw wisely keeping the American Family Association off his back) but as sources of blood of even higher libidinous content than adults'. Consequently, baby-snatching becomes a device to bring the two main characters together in a wild encounter at Whistler's ritzy Lake Tahoe chalet. Add necromancing by the witch Selene--the vampires' second favorite slurpy stop--and Nasaw has installed elements that his capable character development, mainly Nick's backsliding into imbibing, turn into a hedonistic fantasy. Entertaining for the Anne Rice crowd. Gilbert Taylor
From Kirkus Reviews 03/01/1996
Mildly supernatural, erotic tale from the author of West of the Moon (1987), etc., this about a mixed sexual bag of 12 vampires who form Vampires Anonymous in San Francisco, treat blood as an addictive drug, and hew to the Twelve Steps of AA. These vampires are humans, can't change shape, do not have longer lives than other humans, and yet can get stoned on blood- -especially baby-blood. Here, novelist manqu
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