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PODCAST: Seth Grahame-Smith on "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter" [MP3]


Seth Grahame-Smith speaks at the Brattle Theatre

Ever wonder why Honest Abe always wore that tall stovepipe hat? All the better to conceal his wooden vampire-killing stake, my dear. In his most recent book, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, critically acclaimed author Seth Grahame-Smith recounts the "true story" of our nation's 16th president. Grahame-Smith, who first made his literary mark with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, sheds new light on the man history has long painted as the benevolent savior of the Union. In a recent talk at the Brattle Theatre, Grahame-Smith talked about a Lincoln you might not be as familiar with -- one whose campaign for equal human rights included the ruthless slaying of the undead.

Vampires as allegory for bloodthirsty slave-owners? Somehow, it works. Through entries of Lincoln's "previously undiscovered journals," Grahame-Smith constructs a world in which the Civil War stems from some bad blood (!) between Lincoln and a vamp that murdered his mother. Lincoln subsequently wages war against the vampires and the slaveowners with whom they are in league... note that both parties "feed" upon the blood and lives of the weak.
 
Lest you think that the novel (which Tim Burton is adapting for screen) is little more than B-movie shtick legitimized by some haphazardly employed historical facts, hear this: Grahame-Smith knows his stuff. The author is clearly both a horror purist and a bona fide Lincoln buff. In his talk, he cites The Shining, the original Night of the Living Dead and The Exorcist among his favorite horror movies and recalls being a Stephen King "fanatic" as a young boy. And Grahame-Smith's fusion of supernatural gore and actual historical accounts results in a ripping yarn that, at the very least, is good enough for Doris Kearns Goodwin. Goodwin told him that she thought his book was "tremendous fun" and that Lincoln himself would have enjoyed it -- high praise from a Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential historian. 
 
Tune in to hear about the author's reverence for Abraham Lincoln, his personal writing process, and Lincoln's unlikely affinity for Edgar Allan Poe (who, apparently, would like to be a vampire himself). Also in the talk: pot-shots at MTV and the Twilight franchise, penis jokes, the stink of writers' rooms, John Wilkes Booth compared to Tom Cruise (zing!), and how awesome it would be to see Will Smith play Mr. Darcy onscreen. No, really. 
 
In search of more literary-mashup thrills? Stop by the Harvard COOP tonight at 7pm for a "Nerd Fun-Boston-Interactive Literary Duel," where fans will pit readings from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice against excerpts from Grahame-Smith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in a war of the words.
 
 
Recorded live at the Brattle Theatre, courtesy of the Harvard COOP, on March 8, 2010; if you enjoyed this reading, check out the COOP's schedule of upcoming events. To subscribe to our podcast, paste this RSS feed into your podcatcher or feed-reader of choice, or bookmark http://thephoenix.com/podcast
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