The Delicate Dependency by Michael Talbot: A Book Review

First Valancourt Book Edition, 2014, Richmond, VA; Previously published in 1982 by Avon Books, a paperback edition in 1982.  Hard Cover Edition first published by Centipede Press in 2017; 300 copies exclusive.

The Delicate Dependency: A Novel of The Vampire Life was written in 1982 by Michael Talbot, an interesting man who lived most of his life in New York City, writing at times for The Village Voice.  The Delicate Dependency was his first novel and is regarded as one of the best vampire novels ever written.

The Avon paperback can be found in small bookstores and on the Internet and is quite high-priced.   Of course, with the release of the new paperback the price should come down.

Michael Talbot is extremely intelligent and his book The Holographic Universe, which was written in 1991, is very well known.  It is very dense and if you intend to read this book, settle down with a dictionary.  If you are interested in physics, this book is right up your street.

In The Delicate Dependency, the vampire, as they call themselves in plural, are the keepers of all human knowledge and are scattered throughout the world, some of them living in monasteries.  One of the vampires was actually a Pope in this book.

Dr. John Gladstone is the main human character.  His two children, Ursula and Camille, play major roles.  Camille, a young girl, is a savant.  If she hears a tune played on an instrument, she can duplicate it to the very note on a piano.

For reasons that will be disclosed, the vampire Niccolo steps out in front of Dr. John Gladstone’s carriage, breaking Niccolo’s legs.  Dr. Gladstone takes responsibility for Niccolo and takes him to the hospital where several peculiar events ensue.

Lady Dunaway, a fellow traveler with Dr. Gladstone, says, “Never trust the vampire, for everything they say and do is for some other purpose.  They will play a cruel and enigmatic ‘game of the mind’ with you and it will be up to you to solve the puzzle, unravel the Gordian knot.”

Niccolo and Lodovico, two very old vampires, combine forces to kidnap Camille, the young musical savant.  Lady Dunaway wants to travel with Dr. Gladstone, claiming that her son, a mathematical savant, has been kidnapped by the vampire.

Dr. Gladstone has a strange intuition about Lady Dunaway, who seems at times not quite human, although her body temperature is normal.  The vampire have cool body temperatures and their heartbeats (in most stories about vampires they don’t have heartbeats) are about 34 beats per minute.

During the search for the two savant children, Dr. Gladstone and Lady Dunaway wind up in France and are taken prisoner by a vampire named Des Essientes.  They are kept in separate, comfortable rooms, but they are told that they will be kept there for the rest of their lives because they have discovered too much about the vampire.

On alternate nights, they are sometimes given the run of the house,  always under the watchful eye of a falcon that feeds on rotting meat.  Therefore, if they try to escape, the falcon’s claws will infect them with lethal bacteria.

The falcon is the pet of a young vampire, Hatim, who was turned when he was a teenager.  Hatim has many of the mannerisms of the falcon and his demeanor frightens Dr. Gladstone.  When Dr. Gladstone asks Hatim how old he his, Hatim says that he doesn’t really know, but he assumes he was born over 500 years ago.

If you have read the book Dracula by Bram Stoker, you will notice a similarity in the frantic chase scene when Dr. Gladstone and Lady Dunaway flee the vampire when they seem to be closing in on all sides.

Dr. Gladstone’s older daughter, Ursula, assists in their escape, but I will stop here and let you be chilled by it as you read the book.

Talbot has the vampire keep records of humanity for many centuries.  Many vampires were living in monasteries during the dark ages.  Lodovico, one of the oldest vampires, has birds and animals long thought extinct in his giant mansion and gardens, where he isolates himself from the rest of the world.

The Delicate Dependency is a book that is as interesting as the life of its author, who was way ahead of his time.  Michael Talbot was gay, born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1953.  He died of HIV related leukemia at the age of 38.

Michael Talbot is regarded as one of the great minds of his generation and has been widely published.  Even though not many people have heard of this book about the vampire, it is regarded as the best of its genre.  It’s just been reprinted, making it available to vampire lovers worldwide.  The paperback is within the price range of the average reader and the rare hardcover published by Centipede Press sells for close to one hundred dollars.

 

Marc D. Goldfinger is a member of the board of directors of the Homeless Empowerment Project, which publishes Spare Change news. Formerly homeless, he serves as the paper's poetry editor.

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