Anne Rice

First Encounters With Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles

Now that Universal has acquired the film rights to The Vampire Chronicles (see my earlier post for a link to more information), my excitement is growing with each new announcement.

A few days ago, Anne Rice asked fans on Facebook and Twitter when they first encountered Lestat.  It started me thinking.

I’ve talked about my history with The Vampire Chronicles. I saw Interview with the Vampire in the theater 20 years ago when I was 14, then a few weeks later I stumbled across a copy of the book.  I was hooked.  The film and the book are nothing alike.  While there are subtle similarities, there really is no comparison. 

But I certainly didn’t understand the complexities of the books or her writing until later on.  As every new book came out, I went back and read the earlier books to recall fine details, and with every reading came new observations.  And I also noticed that themes struck me in different ways at different points in my life.

I have read comments from other fans and I know I’m not alone in this.  But it is interesting to note.

The next step is to start imagining how Bob Orci (of the Star Trek reboot fame) will handle the books.  He is a fan (perhaps more so than Neil Jordan) and so his treatment promises to yield a very sympathetic take on the books that are beloved by so many.

So how did you first meet the Vampire Lestat and the world of Anne Rice? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below!

Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles Acquired by Universal

This is very exciting news indeed. In this Aug. 16th article from The Examiner, Christopher Rice talks about the screenplay he wrote for Anne Rice’s The Tale of the Body Thief.  Universal has acquired the film rights and Bob Orci (Star Trek) has been linked to the projects.

This news is manna from Heaven for Anne Rice fans who have waited for something to happen with the books after several stalled attempts after the 1994 film Interview with the Vampire, directed by Neil Jordan and starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.  It also helps to create more buzz in advance of Ms. Rice’s newest book, Prince Lestat, featuring the Brat Prince himself.

Here is a link to the article:
http://www.examiner.com/article/christopher-rice-on-the-vines-the-vampire-chronicles-and-universal

The Vampire Armand

So in the midst of my Vampire Chronicles reread, I had to switch gears and jump into The Vampire Armand for a while.  I really enjoy that book.  Armand is a complex character.  Now, it should be noted that this book was written when Anne Rice was still very devoutly Catholic and religious.  Armand is a very complex character who has moved through his 5 centuries of life while experiencing the highs and lows of love, religion, and tragedy.  I would argue that Armand is one of the true tragic figures of modern literature.

More on this later….

Jumping Around the Vampire Chronicles

I bought The Vampire Chronicles Volume I for my Nook.  I already have the books, and in some cases I have more than one copy.  But I knew that if I had the books on my Nook I’d read them even more.  And it’s true.  This also means that I’ve been skipping around the Vampire Chronicles gleefully, revisiting passages that I haven’t seen in a while.  Jumping ahead to the Queen of the Damned has been a lot of fun.  Reading about Armand and Daniel has been the most enjoyable.  I’ve always enjoyed those two.

I’ve been insanely busy the past few weeks, but being able to catch up to my old friends has been great.  It’s always wonderful to be able to pick up a much-loved book and fall back into it as if reading it for the first time.  I feel like I’m falling in love with Anne Rice’s vampires all over again, and now that I’ve been to New Orleans, I’m finding a whole new connection to the books.

Digression From My Re-Read of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles: The Myriad Comments on Barnes and Noble

I’ve talked about my well-worn copy of Interview with the Vampire purchased when I was 14 at Don’s Market in the middle of nowhere during a family trip in 1994.  I’m not using that copy during my re-read of The Vampire Chronicles because it’s too fragile.  Right now I’m using the 20th anniversary commemorative edition I bought in 1996.  It’s a trade paperback, so it’s larger and it has a fancy embossed cover.  I love it.

Recently I thought about purchasing The Vampire Chronicles for my Nook, which would make them much more portable.  (I haven’t yet made the purchase…I’m still on the fence because nothing beats the feeling and smell of a book)  While I was shopping on bn.com, I started perusing the comments and was shocked to see how many people gave the books 1-2 stars simply because it was too full of “history.”  What the hell do these people think “vampire lore” means?  Many of the commenters were teens; having read TVC when I was 14, this didn’t surprise me.  What surprised me was how many people were upset that they had to get through so much history to get to the story.  People: The story is about the history!  Louis himself tells the Reporter that he wants to share his life’s story.  That is a history of someone’s life! 

It dawned on me that in the wake of the Twilight Saga, vampire literature has taken a sharp nosedive.  Gone is the history and the lore.  Now the backstory is nothing more than an aside in a conversation.  No one seems to have the patience for it. (I read Twilight only because I was at Comic Con and someone at the publisher’s table gave me a free copy and I read it while sitting in a line.  Yeah.  I read it in a matter of hours.  It didn’t require deep thought, which isn’t an insult, by the way.  It’s just a statement.  You don’t need to ponder the book.  You read it and move on to the next one.)  Now, it was amusing to see that one comment compared some passages from IWTV to Jacob’s point of view in Breaking Dawn (i.e. repetitive and not exciting).   I won’t touch that one because I know that Team Jacob fans are rabid (no pun intended), but it’s funny to me that these comments all basically say the same thing: these readers do not want history and lore and lush imagery and prosaic passages about the majesty and mystery of New Orleans and what it’s like to be a vampire.  No.  They want the action.  They want the drama.  They want the romance.  And they want it now.

Not everyone is like this, mind you, but it does suggest that the tide is changing in literature.  I will be interested to see how Anne Rice’s newest book, Prince Lestat, is received by the crop of new vampire fans who think every vampire is like Edward Cullen. 

Remember when Lestat was at the height of his Rock Star days, and he comments that his legions of fans don’t truly believe that he’s a vampire?  They’re just caught up in the spell of it all, and they probably wouldn’t be so enthused if they knew the truth and the evil he was capable of.  Lestat debated this point later on with David Talbot in Tale of the Body Thief.  In Anne Rice’s world, vampires must feed on blood to survive, and while some try to walk the fine line between good and evil, some find it much more pleasant to give up the charade and be evil, unapologetically, because they like it (Theater of the Vampires, anyone?).  I think the generation of vampire fans who joined the ranks amid the whirlwind of The Twilight Saga are like the fans that Lestat speaks of.  If Edward Cullen didn’t feed on animals and instead tore a few throats out (especially a few throats attached to innocent people)…would he still be a heartthrob?  Maybe.  Maybe not. 

Why are people still drawn to the Vampire Lestat and religiously flock to the annual Vampire Ball in New Orleans?  Personally, I think it has to do with the fact that Lestat is as human as we are.  He’s imperfect and he tries to do the right thing; sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.  Isn’t that the human experience?  (Yes, yes, I know, he has killed people.  Lots of them.  I know.  But people…he’s a work of fiction.  That means we can embrace him all we want.  If you’re wondering, I think he’s one of the most complex characters ever written.)

It makes me sad to think that the vivid imagery of Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire is being criticized for having too much history.  Ironically, I read IWTV when I was 14 and eventually majored in history, and don’t think that discovering the magical worlds of Pre-Revolutionary France, Venice during the Renaissance, New Orleans (at any point in history), and ancient Rome through The Vampire Chronicles didn’t have something to do with that.  Anne Rice has a knack for bringing the past to life with her meticulously researched settings.

I’m not sure a digression needs to have a distinct conclusion…but I will say this: I enjoyed reading The Twilight Saga but those books are in a category unto themselves.  Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles cannot (and should not) be compared to the work of Stephanie Meyer.  It’s totally fine to be a fan of one set and not the other. Tearing apart the Vampire Chronicles for having too much “history” and “vampire lore” is silly, though.  As Lestat would say: “Mon Dieu.”

 

Interview with the Vampire Re-Read: Post 1

“I see,” said the vampire thoughtfully.

And so it began.  I’m reading the 20th anniversary special edition of Interview with the Vampire that I bought back in 1996.  The cover is embossed and decorated beautifully.  It seems very fitting that I’ve never really read this copy.  Now is the perfect time to crack the spine and delve.

One thing that really stands out to me now is the interplay between Louis and the reporter.  The reporter is very aware that this evening is taking an unexpectedly dark and dangerous turn.  He can’t even light his own cigarette. 

Louis is aloof, introspective, and he seems out of place in the 1970s, which makes his interaction with the reporter so interesting.  In fact, the reporter seems out of place, too.  From what we find out later about Daniel Molloy, his character really lacks depth at this point.

More to come…

Project Vampire Chronicles: The Re-Read

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In 1994 my friend took me to see Interview with the Vampire in the theater.  I was 14 and all I knew was that I was mesmerized.  I’d never heard of Anne Rice or Lestat or the books.  For me, it was just a movie. (And it’s crazy to think that the movie is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year!)

At the time, I wasn’t concerned with symbolism or imagery.  I just liked the movie.  As a history lover (later I would graduate college with a double major, with one being History), I fell in love with the idea of watching a character move through so many time periods.  I never overlooked the part about what a vampire must do to survive; I liked that Anne Rice’s characters didn’t forget that either.  I thought it was a smart way to portray their eternal predilection: some vampires relished it, some abhorred it, some tolerated it, and some managed to survive by doing the least amount of damage possible.  The same can be said of conscience: some vampires are directed by an eternal crisis of conscience, while others choose to embrace the spirit of carpe diem.

A few weeks later my family went to the mountains for Christmas, and we stopped in a little market on the way to buy snacks.  There on the book rack was a copy of Interview with the Vampire.  I bought it, and I spent the rest of the trip enveloped in the world of Anne Rice and her vampires.  We returned home five days later, I rushed to the bookstore and bought the sequels: The Vampire Lestat, Queen of the Damned, and Tale of the Body Thief.  I read those in a matter of days.  I couldn’t get enough.

Memnoch the Devil was the first book that came out while I was a fan.  That was 1995 and I was 15, and while I found the book to be entertaining, I have to admit that it didn’t resonate with me.

Years have passed and now I’m 33.  A new book in the Vampire Chronicles is being released in October and it features the Vampire Lestat.  You might recall that Anne Rice said she would never bring Lestat back after his exodus in The Blood Canticle.  Interestingly, that was released back in 2003 when Anne Rice had been embracing Christianity.  In 2010 she famously split from Christianity and returned to her supernatural roots with The Wolf Gift.  That said, it will be interesting to see if Lestat is still pursuing sainthood.

I’ve decided to embark on a journey.  I’m going to re-read The Vampire Chronicles before the new book comes out, and I’m going to post my thoughts, reflections and comments on my blog.  I’m hoping to find things that I missed before.  I’m really looking forward to this little journey.  I hope you’ll join me along the way, and I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you!

If You Give A Vampire A Cookie

In keeping with the vampire theme the past few days, my latest musing revolves around the subject of a vampire’s diet.

If a vampire asked to drink your blood, would you do it?

Let’s assume you have a Lestat or Matthew or even an Edward for the younger crowd.  He’s hungry.  You will not become a vampire with a simple blood donation.  He asks and doesn’t force it.  Do you do it?

To me, it would all depend on the circumstances.  I’m not even sure what the proper circumstances would be.  I just know that I’d have to think about it.  And it would depend on who it was and who he was to me.  It would not be a blanket yes or no. 

Of course, this is purely conjecture.  Can you imagine meeting a real vampire, let alone being asked to allow him some of your blood? Crazy.  But it never hurts to be prepared….

Still Pondering the Vampire Thing

Yesterday I asked if you would talk to a supernatural creature if you encountered one.  I haven’t stopped thinking about the question.

Let’s assume for the moment that these supernatural creatures exist.  I see two possibilities.  Either they have adapted and integrated into mainstream society, or they live on the fringe. 

NBC’s version of the Bram Stoker classic, Dracula, posits that Jack the Ripper was in fact a vampire.  Vampires feed on blood, so they would need a source of food.  I don’t think this is the kind of vampire I’d want to talk to.

But let’s say that vampires and witches and the rest of the “supes” have managed to integrate.  It would make sense given that it would be hard to hide bloodless bodies or mysterious occurrences with today’s 24/7 media coverage.  I think you could have a conversation in this scenario.  I realize that therr is still an inherent danger.  Anne Rice and Deborah Harkness’s vampires and supernatural creatues are mostly civilized, but there is still an element of danger.  Frankly, though, I’d go as far as to say that there is danger meeting anyone these days (Christian Bale and American Psycho, anyone?)  You just have to be careful.

So as I strive to be a perpetual optimist, I still think I’d talk to a vampire if I encountered one.  Good conversation can be so hard to find these days….

What do you think?