The Traveling Vampire Show
- Author: Richard Laymon
- Artist: Alan M. Clark
- Page Count: 252
- Pub. Date: 2000
- ISBN: 1-58767-000-3
- Status: Out of Print
The Traveling Vampire Show
by Richard Laymon
About the Book:
Though gloomy with clouds, it is a hot, August morning in the summer of 1963. All over the rural town of Grandville, tacked to power poles and trees, taped to store windows, blowing along the sidewalks, fliers have appeared announcing the mysterious one-night-only performance of The Traveling Vampire Show.
The show will feature Valeria, the only known vampire in captivity. According to the fliers, she is a gorgeous, stunning beauty. In the course of the performance, she will stalk volunteers from the audience, sink her teeth into their necks and drink their blood!
For three local teenagers who see the fliers, this is a show they don't want to miss.
But they may have to.
Though they can probably scrape up the price of admission, other obstacles stand in the way. One problem, nobody under 18 years of age is allowed into the show. Dwight, Rusty, and Slim are only 16. Another problem, the show begins at midnight and the three teens always have to be home by then. If that weren't bad enough, the show is to take place at Janks Field — a desolate patch of ground with a nasty history — that has been declared off limits by their parents.
The situation appears hopeless.
Though Dwight and his friends fear they won't be able to attend the actual performance of the Traveling Vampire Show, they do have the entire day to themselves. Why not hike out to Janks Field and take a look around? With any luck, they might be able to watch the crew make preparations for tonight's performance. If they're really lucky, maybe they'll get a peek at Valeria, the gorgeous vampire.
And so the three friends set off on foot for Janks Field...
Dwight is a solid, honest kid, long on common sense and loyalty to his friends. He always tries to do what's right.
Rusty is a husky guy who relishes trouble.
Slim, their long-time pal, is the brains of the outfit, a voracious reader of novels, an aspiring writer, and a girl. Also, she is sometimes too brave for her own good.
The Traveling Vampire Show is the tale, told in Dwight's own words, of what happened to him, Rusty and Slim on that hot summer day they hiked to Janks Field. It's the story of their friendship and love, their temptations, their betrayals, and their courage as they went where they shouldn't go, did what they shouldn't do... and ran into big trouble.
Reviews & Praise:
" Like the vampire he celebrates so often (Stake, etc.), this talented writer's career, once dead in the States though not overseas, has risen anew— thanks largely to Cemetery Dance, which has issued his work (Cuts; Come Out Tonight; etc.) even as no mainstream American hardcover publisher would touch it. The author's fall after his successful run in the 1980s was due to several factors, including his writerly predilection toward excess sex and violence. Here, Laymon takes those elements in hand, not so much abjuring them as putting them to artful use as he tells a wickedly involving story of three 16-year-olds and their life-changing encounter with the road show of the title. It's hot August 1963 when narrator Dwight, along with his pals--overweight Rusty and pretty (female) Slim--note flyers for the Traveling Vampire Show, featuring a purported real vampire, Valeria. Intrigued, the trio sneak onto the backwoods site of the show and there tangle with a vicious dog; after the others leave, Slim watches the spooky show troupe spear the mongrel to death. This, plus a long buildup to the show (spinning on whether troupe members are after the teens) forms most of the long narrative. Unusual for Laymon, the emphasis is on atmosphere rather than action, and he sustains a note of anticipatory dread throughout, made particularly resonant through his expert handling of the social, particularly sexual, tensions among the three teens. The novel's climax is the show itself, and here Laymon lets out the stops in typically ferocious fashion. In its understanding of the sufferings and ecstasies of youth, the novel carries some of the wisdom of King's The Body or Robert R. McCammon's Boy's Life, but the book, Laymon's best in years, belongs wholly to this too-neglected author, who with his trademark squeaky-clean yet sensual prose, high narrative drive and pitch-dark sense of humor has crafted a horror tale that's not only emotionally true but also scary and, above all, fun."
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Richard Laymon was born in Chicago in 1947. He grew up in California and has a BA in English Literature from Willamette University, Oregon, and an MA from Loyola University, Los Angeles.
He published more than sixty short stories in magazines such as Ellery Queen, Alfred Hitchcock, and Cavalier and in anthologies, including Modern Masters of Horror, The Second Black Lizard Anthology of Crime, and Night Visions 7.
His novel Flesh was named Best Horror Novel of 1988 by Science Fiction Chronicle and also shortlisted for the prestigious Bram Stoker Award, as was Funland.
Richard Laymon is the author of more than thirty acclaimed novels, including The Cellar, The Stake, Savage, Quake, Island, and Body Rides. He won the Bram Stoker Award for his Cemetery Dance novel, The Traveling Vampire Show.
Over fifty authors contributed to a tribute anthology entitled In Laymon's Terms.
Published in three states:
• Limited Edition Hardcover of 1,000 signed copies ($40)
• Unsigned Second Edition Hardcover featuring the same production values as the Limited Edition but without a signature sheet ($40)
• Traycased Lettered Edition of 26 signed and lettered copies bound in leather with a satin ribbon page marker and additional full-color artwork