BOOK REVIEW: The Mummy Congress
by James MacLaren
The Mummy Congress: Science, Obsession and the Everlasting
Heather Pringle, 2001, Hyperion
Oh cool, mummies!
With like hair, and teeth, and well…EVERYTHING!
Things start out just fine and creepy right from the front cover. Some
kind of low light shot taken indoors, with the shutter held open long
enough to make it look like normal lighting. The only living guy in the
shot is a wraithlike blur, formed from his (Her? Can’t tell, it’s just
too blurry.) own motion as the shutter remained open. Stacked against
the walls of the room, nice and crisp, (these guys aren’t going
ANYWHERE) is a group of mummies. Nine of ’em. Whole damned crowd. And
when I say stacked against the walls, what I really mean is that
they’re all STANDING UP. And they’ve all got this totally distracted
presence about them. Like hoods slouching on some street corner in one
of those old B&W flicks from the fifties or early sixties. A perfectly
And it’s a lucky thing that the cover is as cool as it is. ‘Cause the
title kinda makes me wonder about the contents of the book. Mummy
CONGRESS? Sounds like some kind of arcane scientific seminar or
something. Which, as it turns out, is exactly what’s going on. But
there’s a twist. We’re not going to delve into the dry details of some
damned presentation or other. Instead, we’re gonna use the congress as
a jumping off point to let us examine the weird and wonderful world of
the SERIOUS mummy infrastructure that’s out there. The people, the
places, and of course, the objects of all the study and curiosity.
And there’s an incredible WORLD of people and places that interconnect
via the peculiar medium of mummies.
Heather Pringle gets completely wrapped up in it all and does a bang-up
job of ferreting out the bitchin’ details. She also does a bang-up job of passing what she finds along to you, the reader.
The Mummy Subculture is an incredible little world. All sorts of neato
types. You’ll get to meet them all. The LIVE ones are just as cool as
the DEAD ones. Nice how that works.
Unless you’ve read this thing, you have NO IDEA of just how many
different kinds of mummies are out there. Each with its own fascinating
story. Who was this person? How did this person come to their demise?
What was it that prevented them from rotting away to nothing, the way
dead people are SUPPOSED to?
Too much cool stuff!
Girls pulled out of European bogs, thousands of years later, with the
rope(!) still around their neck. Artists in some garret, busily daubing
away with mummy pigment! People CONSUMING mummy, as a medicinal!
Mummified children, pulled from holes in the rocks, at the SUMMIT of
Andean peaks thousands of meters into thin stratospheric air! Egyptian
mummies sold by the TON, in whole or in part! White Guy mummies from
the western reaches of China, that the present day Chinese, in all their
weirdness, would rather you not know so very much about!
Ahhh…hell, there’s a whole BOOK’S worth of this stuff. No way can I
list it all.
Go get this sonofabitch. Lotta fun.