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Memoir of the Masses, by Leon Mintz Book Review | SFReader.com
Memoir of the Masses, by Leon Mintz Genre: Horror Publisher: Erie Harbor Productions Published: 2006 Review Posted: 11/12/2007 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 8 out of 10
Memoir of the Masses, by Leon Mintz
Book Review by C. Dennis Moore
Have you read this book?
Wow. And I mean that, sincerely. Wow. That's what I thought every day while I read Leon Mintz's Memoir of the Masses. I couldn't believe anyone had purposely, not only written this, but then went to the trouble and expense to publish it. Some people have too much time on their hands.
I'm not a violent person, for the most part, but Memoir of the Masses is one of the few cases where, if I ever met the author, I wouldn't ask him to sign my copy. Instead, I'd take that copy and beat him about the head and neck with it. And at 388 pages, I could probably do some damage.
Sean Hamilton is a young man, somewhere between 16-20something, who attends a prestigious prep school somewhere in New York. Sean is a brilliant young man who has discovered a way, if I remember correctly, to re-animate dead cells. He's supposed to give a talk at some convention soon, but his headmaster, JR Mansfield, has pulled the plug on that and shut down Sean's research. So Sean takes one of the cadavers the school often uses in its research and strings it up in Mansfield's barn, then calls the cops. Unbeknownst to Sean, the body he uses belongs not to some random hobo as he thinks, but to a Dr. Kettering who turned up missing shortly after Mansfield murdered him.
The school is shut down and Sean gives his talk. At the convention he meets Sasha Beauna who runs the New York Plasma Center and offers Sean a job where he can finish his research. Unbeknownst to Sean (Sean's a bit of a tool and lots of things happen unbeknownst to him), the plasma center is run by vampires who want to use Sean's discovery to clone host bodies for themselves, since, apparently vampires go through different bodies every few hundred years.
Never mind the obvious, that re-animating dead cells isn't the same as cloning. I'm just gonna give you a second to digest all of that.
There's also some subplot about the government engineering AIDS as a way of controlling the vampire population because "For vampires to easily pass into a new host, though, they must have the host's willful submission. So for vampires to achieve this with a new, same-sex host, it naturally leads them to the gay community. This is not to say that all vampires have gay hosts. It's just easiest for them. This is why there is a connection between gays and vampires."
You know, I'd always wondered. Makes perfect sense now. Oh and there's something about the skull of the very first vampire, named Smoking Mirrors. But it didn't make a lot of sense and was never brought up again past the halfway mark, so forget it. In fact, not much of this thing made sense, so let's just forget it altogether, huh?
While the plot was difficult to follow, the writing was painful. It's easy to tell, usually, when you're reading the work of someone who's taken courses, studied the craft, workshopped, networked, or just plain knows what they're doing, and someone who thought it would be rad to knock Stephen King off his throne and threw together a novel over summer vacation. One clue is, those people in the second category take themselves too seriously. In the case of Memoir of the Masses, we're reading a shining example:
Hah! Though I reported that Mansfield was homicidal, I really didn't think he was. Man, why the hell would Mansfield murder an archeologist anyway?
Hah! Maybe the good doctor was like a modern-day Indiana Jones. And... And he had found something... something ancient and valuable. Yeah, yeah. That's got to be it. Money and greed, that's what drives the evil of today.
Hah! I should have been a writer instead of a geneticist. Hah! How shallow would that be? Just what the world needs, more blood and bullshit.
First off, thanks for insulting my profession twice over--first in calling it shallow, then in trying to do it yourself, you pretentious little... And second, Hah! He uses that one a lot. 250 times, in fact. I counted. I mean, what else was I gonna do, follow the story?
This ... I hesitate to use the terms "novel" or "book", so we'll call it "the item", is told in first-person present-tense, with each chapter being told through the POV of a different character. Not a horrible idea, sure, until you realize in 53 chapters, we're seeing the story through the eyes of 23 different characters. And that every one of them says "Hah" every fifth word. And just in case we forget, Mintz has generously paid the extra $20 to his "publisher" to have the names of the POV character printed down the side of every page--along with a fanciful border. From the acknowledgement: "The borders that line the pages of this story are based on the symbols used to determine a day in the Mesoamerican 52-year century. From bottom to top, the three symbols/gods represent the year, week and day of a particular chapter." He goes on to thank 4 people for their editorial services, and to express his gratitude toward the people of Mexico. That's a whole country, plus 4 people who probably hate him now. Like I said, Mintz takes himself way too seriously, and obviously thinks what he's written here is the next great thing. Also in the acknowledgements, he makes sure to point out that "All words that are italic pertain vampirisim" (yes, I typed it just as he had it) and that "All CAPITALIZED WORDS are audible noises that occur during the course of the story." So we get gems like this:
Reaching the L-shaped corner, though, the smell intensifies tenfold.
HAWK. HAWK. HAWK.
BLAAH. SPLOOSH. BLAAH. SPLOOSH.
I'm unable to stop it, and the contents of my stomach spew out onto the alleyway.
I'd like to thank Mintz for that. And you can tell he thought it was pretty clever, because he does that one a lot, too. Not as often as the HAH!, but it's a lot. And the whole thing about the italics gets real tedious:
Flexing muscles and breathing hard, I consciously pump the dog's blood through me. Its essence brings about the shift. From decades of feeding and hunting, I have learned many things from the blood and shifting is just one of them.
Holy crap, dude, I'll give you my lunch money, just STOP that, please. I wanted to mention in this review the honest typos, like when one character "shutters", and another shifts their "manuel transmission", or how he calls mainstream America "Main Street America". I was gonna point and laugh, but Sweet Jesus, the stuff he did on purpose is even worse!
It's one thing to have a good story written badly, or a bad story written well. At least with one or the other, you can usually fake it. But when your story doesn't make a lick of sense, and you can't write yourself out of a paper bag, what do you do? Apparently you self-publish and send a copy to CDM. Natch.
I know I give some books a hard time, and they deserve it, but for the most part those books, suck as they did, had a plot I could follow. There was so much going on in this one, so many characters I couldn't follow, so many plot threads that never merged to form a coherent whole, it actually makes me angry at Mintz... Memoir of the Masses is subtitled "A Tale of Smoking Mirrors". It better be the ONLY tale of Smoking Mirrors, that's all I'm saying. Don't ever release something like this on an unsuspecting public again!
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