'Vlad' is Vlad the Impaler, of course, whose mythic cruelty was an inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula. In this sly sequel, Vlad really is undead. More than a postmodern riff on 'the vampire craze, ' 'Vlad' is also an anatomy of the Mexican bourgeoisie, as well as our culture's ways of dealing with death. For - as in Dracula - Vlad has need of both a lawyer and a real-estate agent in order to establish his new kingdom, and Yves Navarro and his wife Asuncion fit the bill nicely. Having recently lost a son, might they not welcome the chance to see their remaining child live forever? More importantly, are the pleasures of middle-class life enough to keep one from joining the legions of the damned?
Carlos Fuentes is the author of Terra Nostra, The Old Gringo, and The Crystal Frontier as well as numerous literary and political essays.