Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bottomfeeder by B.H Fingerman

That's not a very poetic title, I know. But neither is the tone of Bottomfeeder - a novel that lingers refreshingly with me right now writing these words. Having just completed it, the positive effect of the book is instantaneous: with this paragraph I sound like Phil Merman, our narrator. Sarcastic. Cynical. But above all, utterly hilarious.

Phil Merman is a vampire. Converted by an unknown assailant years before, he's a fifty-four year old immortal living in the flesh of a young man. He's lost his marriage, his friends, and most other things mere mortals hold dear. Phil spends most nights working a regular job. A semi-regular job. If digitally cleaning up photos of dead people is considered regular. Murders, suicides, drive-by shootings - everything New York's finest has to offer. A vampire still has to pay the bills, and the only down-sides are the hunger pangs that creep in staring at all that spilled sustenance. After knocking off it's time for the hunt to begin. But Phil's still a nice guy; it isn't easy to murder to stay alive. So Phil becomes a bottomfeeder . . . sucking the life out of the lowest common denominator: bums and hobos; addicts and degenerates. At least no one will miss them. And making his dinner appear to be victims of nothing than mere muggings guarantees he'll never get caught . .

Personally, the novel resonated with me. B.H. Fingerman's take on modern life is pessimistic but many of you will nod at his keen observations regarding the boring hum-drum of life: rushing through activities just to look busy in front of others; counting down the hours to fill our voids with food, sex, sleep, or - in the vampire's case - hunting. The truth hurts, but B.H. Fingerman has also made the truth laugh-out-loud funny. And being cynical is just an unpleasant way of telling the truth. Phil's not a God, but he looks down on humanity like one. His nature is supercilious - and a tad too much like this narrators as to be scary.

Bottomfinger is an original take on the vampire novel, with few drawbacks. Like the speech impediment of one our main characters, it stutters a little at the start but slowly builds in crescendo. We journey with Phil as he comes out of his isolated shell, hooking up with others of his tribe and learning valuable lessons on the way. 

The book has already received some high praise from some legends in the genre. Fifty pages in I knew I was dealing with an instant cult-classic.