Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For me, Anne Rice is in the upper stratosphere of sensual writing. I've never known a writer who can so immediately and profoundly immerse you in a scene, and she seems to do it with very little effort. For example, writers have endeavored for a century to explain to their readers the difference between living as a human and living as a vampire. Sometimes the experience is an allusion, made between the lines. Sometimes it is more heavy-handed, and the vampire is left to vulgar displays of power to get the point across. But in Anne Rice's world, it's done through an interview.
This is the book that started it all for me. Before this book, I admired writers and I flirted with the idea of writing. After this book I decided I could do nothing else but write, and I had to start right away to capture the world around me in my mind and translate it into words. I had to make people feel, I had to force them to weep, even if their lives were roses and champagne.
Perhaps, then, you're wondering why I've not given this book a full five stars. You have to understand, the first time I took the trip with Louis and Lestat and Claudia, I was an adolescent, and my life was full of angst and the certainty that I could never be understood. The book does a magnificent job of exploiting that feeling of being lost and alone, the only one of your kind in a world filled with Others. To be fair, I decided recently to return to the humid New Orleans of this vampire tale.
Anne Rice's writing is just as I remembered it: Florid, full, rich, and sensual without being overly sexual (if you're looking for sexual, however, I insist you read her "Sleeping Beauty" books). What's more, she knows how to take full advantage of the contract signed by both writer and reader when a book is opened, the agreement to suspend disbelief, the willingness to escape reality and unplug from cynicism and trust yourself to the writer and their manipulation of your perspective. She plunges you into Louis' grief from the outset, and that grief only briefly lifts in moments of contentment, but for the most part, it transforms to true despair.
That's why I couldn't give it a full five stars. The world has a broader horizon for me now, and being trapped underwater with that sadness for so long felt a bit like I was being taken advantage of by a demonic writer with an agenda. I wanted to shake the vampire and tell him to get over himself already, to stop being so paranoid and self-centered, and to shit or get off the pot.
Even so -- there's nothing to do but give deep respect to the book that made writing an imperative for me. I honor Anne Rice and, even after all these years, I find myself a member of Team Lestat.
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