Near Death

by Nancy Kilpatrick, Rebecca Todd,
304 pages,
ISBN: 067188090X

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Brief Reviews - Fiction
by George Kaufman

CAN A VOLUPTUOUS JUNKIE prostitute from the mean streets of America find happiness with a gentle, 150year-old blood- sucking poet from Europe'?

This week on "Oprah"? No, this is the main plotline of Nancy Kilpatrick's Near Death (Pocket Books, 306 pages, $6.95 paper). Of course, along the tortured and tortuous path of this updated Pygmalion romance, we also run into nasty drug dealers, crass vampire-hunters, and the final showdown between our sharp-fanged hero and his former partner-in- bloodlust.

If this sounds like a narrative and stylistic goulash, it is. Kilpatrick ricochets back and forth between gritty, often graphic, realism and dreamy romance, not seeming to know which way she wants to play this story. The redeeming factor is that she also knows how to have a lot of tongue-in-cheek fun with all these ingredients -- and that's what fans of modem vampire tales obviously crave.

In spite of the fact that the climactic showdown is a bit of a letdown, actionwise, by the end of this crazy, violent journey across North America, most members of the modem vampire-tale cult should find that their lust for blood has been sated.


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