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July 11, 2003
The Bookshelf
by Daniel Erenberg

Hey, kids. Short article this week, partly because I have no idea what to write about and partly because I have no idea what to write about.

There is something I can devote a few short words to, however, and that comes from an experience I had on Tuesday. On Tuesday I went to Borders Books to pick up the new Chuck Palahniuk travelogue Fugitives and Refugees (very good by the way) and, there, I checked out a section of the store that had LOADS AND LOADS of Buffy The Vampire Slayer books. Now, I knew a short bit about some of the books from the descriptions in the back of Keith Topping’s Slayer books. On the other hand, the only Buffy books that I’ve ever read are either reference guides about the series or Joss Whedon comics.

I know that Christopher Golden is a celebrated Buffy scribe and some fans have expressed to me how wonderful he is. I have read portions of books just sitting around the bookstore, and I have been quite impressed with what I’ve read, but I haven’t devoted the time or energy to actually complete one of the books. This guy has also written some comic books, but licensed comics have always rubbed me the wrong way. I find myself constantly griping about the lack of quality artwork. I prefer original Marvel and Vertigo comics (which means absolutely nothing to the majority of you).

One book that I sat down and read some of is called Chosen (yes, the title of the series finale). It’s pretty much season seven condensed into a 500-page-plus novel. It was really interesting. I read the “Lessons”, “End Of Days”, and “Chosen” chapters. You can tell that it’s a hastily assembled work, but it’s well written and really captures the spirit of the seventh season. The book wasn’t credited to a writer, however, but if it was Christopher Golden that wrote the novel, kudos. It was well written.

Meanwhile, there are the comics. I’ve read five Buffy comics. I read Fray and Angel, by Joss Whedon, Haunted and Jonathan, by Jane Espenson, and Willow/Tara, by Amber Benson. Benson showed an admirable taste for her own character and for Willow’s, and Espenson shined in comic book form just as she has on the show, but it’s Joss that once again shines through as the master. Fray, about a Slayer in the future, is the best Buffyverse comic out there, and his Angel four-issue story arc might as well be an episode or two of the show.

Then there are the reference guides. Once upon a time, I was in a store to purchase the Watcher Guide books, and instead a book called Slayer, by Keith Topping caught my eye, and thank God it did. Slayer is perhaps the best Buffy book out there. The only thing it competes with is the thoughtful Bite Me, by Nikki Stafford. Not only this, but I’ve briefly communicated via e-mail with both of these authors and the pair of them are as delightful people as they are writers.

This article is mainly to spark up some conversation. Got a favorite novel you’d like me to read? Think something you’ve discovered is better than Topping or Stafford’s books? Think there’s a Buffy trade I might enjoy? E-mail me. And post on the comment board.

Daniel Erenberg lives in a gothic-looking house in a suburb of Long Island shrouded by trees and darkness. His backyard is so overrun with shrubbery that he can't plant flowers in the soil. He's penned articles for numerous magazines (and a couple of websites for free). Currently, he's writing his first novel, entitled People That I've Long Since Forgotten. He's also written two plays, Little Room and Dystopia and a screenplay called Youth Or Consequence. He lives a fairly happy life alone and hankers constantly for the hour of eight P.M. to nine P.M. on Tuesday nights. You can contact Daniel on
Latest Comments

'Blood and Fog' and 'Chaos Bleeds' are both really good, but the best BtVS book I've read so far is definitely 'The Wisdom of War.' And 'Out of the Madhouse' is totally absorbing in its freakyness.

Posted by: Wynni on November 14, 2003 01:56 PM

I just finished The Lost Slayer series. Not bad! I liked it more than Pretty Maids All In A Row.

Posted by: AJames on July 31, 2003 12:17 AM

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosphy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnyvale was extraordinary. entertaining and endlessly thought-provoking, it was the best workout my brain has had in a while, and on one of my favorite topics to boot. i didn't want it to end, just like the show.

if you haven't already, daniel, PLEASE check it out!

on the topic of Slayer Slang, i have to say i was so disappointed i returned it, and i had pre-ordered it! i had many complaints, but they are all crystallized in the fact that despite purporting to be a definitive look at the unique talkage that is our show, it failed to include my favorite entry from the buffyverse lexicon. so i'll make one up now:

hello, salty goodness!

an exclamation uttered upon viewing a particularly attractive member of the opposite sex. said by cordy on buffy and angel, both times in reaction to the sight of angel.

Posted by: carpe diva on July 30, 2003 03:00 AM

Hey Daniel, great topic! :) I didn't realize was back up again, and just checked in today for the first time... I have a lot of catching up to do. Thanks for your very kind comments about Bite Me... and for all of you who thought I was tough on Joyce, yeah, I'll give you that. :) The thing that I was trying to point out in the book (and maybe didn't do a very good job of it) was that Joyce, as I saw her, was written from the perspective of Buffy... so in the earlier shows she's really grating, and annoying, and cloying, and doesn't seem to understand anything about her daughter, or even try to. She's in denial about Buffy as a slayer, and only later, in season 5, she becomes a real character. So the question is, was she really annoying back in seasons 1-3, or did she just seem to be because we were watching her from Buffy's POV? I loved Kristine Sutherland, and thought she did an excellent job. But Joyce had her issues. :)

On the topic of books, I'd also like to mention Slayer Slang, that I see a couple of people have already mentioned. I had the pleasure of meeting Michael when we were at a convention together a couple of weeks ago, and he was a really nice guy. The book is a great read (Jane Espenson wrote the introduction) and makes a good reference guide.

I haven't actually read any of the Buffy novels... I'm more of a TV purist. That said, now that the show is off I think I will start looking into them. Someone bought me a copy of The Book of Fours, so I'll be reading that, and now that I see all of these recommendations for Pretty Little Maids... I think that's one I'll be checking out, too. Thanks for providing all of the recommendations!

Posted by: Nikki Stafford on July 29, 2003 07:25 PM

I'm sorry, but the Chosen novel was NOT well written and had mistakes, misspellings, and downright weirdness on every page. NOT a good read and VERY poorly slapped together. And you're right, it did embody the feel of season 7 well because that was crap too. Poorly slapped together crap even. So if you want a good laugh or a good demonstration of under the gun and awful proofreading then pick this one up.

One great shining moment from this landmark in grand literature was in the "Him" chapter when Buffy brought Spike over to live with Xander. The Xand man says, "I take The First shower in the morning, and if I use up all the hot water, that's your tough noogies."

Hmm...cryptic foreshadowy goodness or a computer spell checker session gone horribly haywire?

Or, how about when both Chapter 20 and 21 were both entitled "End of Days"? Well they were both so boring episodes you might as well get "Touched" and that confused.

Anyway, like I said before, this is blatant and unadulterated CRAP. That's C-R-A-P. Get it if you're obsessed like I am and must, but beware (or laugh, either one).

Moral of the Story: When composing a novelization, it's best not to type it up by standing across the room and throwing pieces of furniture at the keyboard.

Posted by: stanky_poozle on July 29, 2003 01:19 AM
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