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Books 149-150: Voodoo Histories and Nightlight

Here are my final reviews of 2009. So pleased I made my 150 target.

Book 149: Voodoo Histories: the Role of Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History.
Author: David Aaronovitch, 2009
Genre: Non-fiction. Cultural History. Conspiracies
Other Details: Hardback. 358 pages.

This book tackles a number of popular conspiracy theories, giving no-nonsense, down-to earth explanations for them. So OK, Oswald acted alone, the Priory of Sion was made up, Marilyn Monroe killed herself and the Moon landings were not faked. Conspiracies considered also include the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which fuelled Anti-Semitism in the early 20th Century, and the 9/11 Truth movement that alleges that the attacks of 9/11 were 'inside jobs' engineered by the Bush administration.

Aaronovitch begins each chapter by vividly describing the conspiracy theory being considered as if it were true and then deconstructs it. It's quite informative and written in an accessible journalistic style but let's face it, the chap is a bit of a kill-joy. One almost gets the impression that he doesn't believe that there have ever been any conspiracies in the history of the world.

I also don't think the book really delivers the promise of its sub-title, which suggests that it is going to be more than just a massive debunk. In the final chapter he seeks to explain the appeal of conspiracy theories but again I didn't really have the impression that this was backed up by any kind of psychological or sociological material.

Book 150: Nightlight: a parody.
Author: The Harvard Lampoon, 2009.
Genre: Parody
Other Details: Paperback. 154 pages.

When you like, live forever, what's there to live for?

This broad parody of Twilight tells the story of the pale, klutzy Belle Goose, who moves from Phoenix to Switchblade, Oregon to live with her dad. The object of her affection is computer nerd Edwart Mullen, who has no interest in her. This leads Belle to the revelation that Edwart is a vampire and now all she has to do is get him to bite her so she can become his eternal bride and avoid the horrors of turning 18.

Meyer's writing style, plot and characters are all pretty easy targets so there is plenty of Belle's narcissism and angst as well as Edwart's stalkerish tendencies and yes the famous sparkles. The writers obviously had a great deal of fun with it weaving in more than a few references to the current vampire-obsession in popular culture. I found it fairly hit and miss though overall gave me more chuckles than groans over its lameness.
Tags: cultural studies, current events, history, non-fiction, satire, vampires, werewolves
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