Thursday, April 15, 2010

Vampire Hunter author haunts Chicago's Lincoln book store

I thought I'd heard it all until a few weeks ago. I was shopping with my grandson in a gift shop at the Indiana State Museum while visiting the Lincoln exhibits there. A shopper picked up a copy of Seth Grahame-Smith's "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter." I remarked, "Amazingly enough, that's becoming pretty popular, even though it's fiction."

The clerk behind the counter quipped something like, "Yes, Lincoln hunted vampires because his mother was killed by one."
The shopper, a gentleman likely in his forties, looked at her with wide eyes and asked, "Really?"

Now, I've met gullible people before, but this guy took the cake. I'm not sure what shocked me more - that he didn't know what fiction was or that he believed there really are vampires and Lincoln's mother was killed by one!

I guess that's one reason why I take a step back when I hear that someone's doing a work of fiction about Lincoln. There are enough myths already, going back to the days when Lincoln's law partner, William Herndon, began interviewing people who knew Lincoln. Herndon's early oral history project, begun shortly after Lincoln's death, has been invaluable to researchers. It must be treated with skepticism, though, for at least a couple reasons - because, as my mentor John E. Hallwas teaches, memory constantly reshapes itself and because some people created their own Lincoln lore to paint their relationships with Lincoln in a brighter light historically.

Yet, I think this Grahame-Smith guy may just have something here. This book seems to be going great guns - and the author is cropping up at book signings all over the place. Heck, my buddy Michael Krebs (aka Mr. Lincoln) even appears in a promotional video as the vampire hunter.

I guess my friends at the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop think the book's got value, too. Daniel Weinberg is one of the nation's leading Lincoln authorities and his Virtual Book Signing has hosted Lincoln authors from Harold Holzer, James McPherson and Michael Burlingame to Senator George McGovern. He sits on all kinds of Lincoln-related boards and things - and, through the years, has earned the respect of hundreds of Lincoln scholars, enthusiasts and collectors.

I'm betting Weinberg knows what I suspect - that any way we can get people enthused about Lincoln is good. And, if it takes a work like this one to reach an audience who really hadn't thought much about our sixteenth president, then that's okay.

Watch Virtual Book Signing

This Friday night, April 16, 2010 at 6 p.m. Central Time, he's welcoming Grahame-Smith to his book-filled sanctuary in the Windy City, where the aged wood throughout creates a warm welcome. You can join them - right from the comfort of your own computer. Just log on to Virtual Book Signing from home. Don't worry if you're late, as you can join it anytime during the program.

We'll get to hear all about this latest Lincoln book. What's even neater is that you can ask a question yourself if you'd like - right during the show. And, you know what? They'll try to get to your question. They've read mine during several book signings.

So don't forget now - Friday, April 16, 6 p.m. Chicago Time. (Isn't that what CT stands for?)

But, do me a favor, would you? Please don't be as gullible as that guy in the museum gift store. Shoot, he even had my seven-year-old companion laughing!
By the way, Seth, good luck. Hope we run into each other on the Lincoln circuit. I just pray you don't sic your vampires or vampire hunters on me. I'd kind of like to live to see that grandson grow up.

Know why? He's a Lincoln buff, too!
© Ann Tracy Mueller 2010
Note: To Anonymous, who submitted feedback today about a Civil War diary. I note that this same comment was posted to an article yesterday and stimulated a great deal of discourse. I do not have the time nor the energy to moderate a large flow of comments with folks arguing back and forth, so I have rejected your post. Though there are others who welcome and thrive on such conversation, I'm sorry. I just don't. Best wishes to you, Ann


Lincolnphotog said...

Everyone had a fun time at Chicago's A. Lincoln Book Shop yesterday at the Virtual Book Signing featuring Seth Grahame-Smith. Seth is a very laidback Californian. He is very quick witted and a great sport. Dan Weinberg seemed be having a great time with his interview.
For anyone that didn't get to attend or watch live on Virtual Book Signing please watch the archived interview on line. I am not sure if it postd yet but it should be in a few days.

Lincoln Buff 2 said...

Thanks, Dave.

I got to watch the last half hour or so. Looked and sounded like all were having a great time. I can't wait until the archived version is live so I can watch it all.

I asked a question online right toward the end, but didn't think to include my name. I wondered about the funny comments he'd heard from others. Fun answer.

I look forward to meeting Seth someday. Seems like a neat young man.

Thanks for sharing.