Thursday, February 28, 2008

Another Blast From The Past - Vampiric Thrills With Anne Rice.

Besides Stephen King, who got me hooked on the horror genre in the early 70s', another author whose books have left a lasting impression on me was Anne Rice, especially with her Vampire Chronicles.

I remembered picking up a copy of Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire in the late 70s’, largely piqued by the interesting title and wanting to try out books by not so-well known authors (Anne Rice at that time, have yet to become the highly popular author that she is now). And what a thrill it WAS!

Rather than being just creepy, evil and one-dimensional creatures of the night, Anne Rice’s vampires were imbued with so much depth, pain, loneliness and fluid sexuality that one just can’t help but identify with her vampires’ sufferings.

The lush and descriptive background that the stories were set in - from ancient Egypt in Queen of the Damned to biblical history in Memnoch The Devil - together with her immaculate grasp of history and the beauty she creates with her tales got me fervently hooked. So hooked, that I remembered eagerly waiting for her next novel in the Vampire Chronicles.

Rice's magical tales and her rare ability to make readers identify and connect with her characters' sense of alienation, their search for the meaning of their existence in a human world, and her excellent casting of vampires as metaphors for the human condition, have made names like Lestat, Louis, Armand, Marius and Akasha very special and memorable to me. And I have yet to come across vampire literature that can match the depth and breadth of the tales by Anne Rice.

Even though I have read her other books like The Witching Hour series and The Mummy, it has always been the Vampire Chronicles that made Anne Rice such a great author in my mind.

Sadly, for me anyway, since 2005, having reaffirmed her Catholic faith, Rice announced that henceforth, she will “write only for the Lord “ and that there will be no more such vampire tales.

While I respected her decision, I also mourned the loss of such rich vampire literature. So, to readers who have yet to experience the magic of Anne Rice tales, here are my favorite Rice’s tomes and I hope you will experience the same vampiric thrills as I did.

The Vampire Chronicles
Interview With the Vampire
Published in 1976, this is the first of her Vampire Chronicles and the book that started my vampiric thrills. Set apart from other works of the vampire genre by it’s confessional tone from a vampire’s perspective, it has the vampire Louis relating the story of Lestat, a vampire with a conscience. It is an engrossing tale of the despair of an alienated being who searches for the meaning of his existence, and his conflicts because he cannot find redemption and does not have the strength to end the evil that he is.

The movie adaptation in 1994, with Tom Cruise as the vampire Lestat and Brat Pitt as Louis, was a rare and surprise hit of novels brought to screen. As an indication of its popularity, Interview With The Vampire remains the best-selling book in the Vampire Chronicles.

The Vampire Lestat
Set in the late 18th century to the late 1980s’, the 2nd book in the series is a rich narrative of the beginnings of the anti-hero, the vampire Lestat. From his origins as a penniless aristocrat to his becoming a vampire at the hands of Magnus, a vampire elder, The Vampire Lestat is an extravagant and dazzling story spanning prehistoric Egypt, ancient Rome to 20th century New Orleans.


The Queen of the Damned
My favorite among the Chronicles, The Queen of the Damned explores the rich history and mythology of the origin of vampires. Dazzling in depth and lush in historical myths, the story tells of the awakening of Akasha, Mother of all vampires, after more than 6000 years of slumber. Awaken by the electrifying songs of Lestat, it is now up to him to stop her monstrous plan of ruling the world of the living.

Breathtaking, imaginative and complex in plot, it is a must read for fans of vampire literature. The 3rd book in the series was also adapted into a movie in 2002, with the deceased R&B star, Aaliyah, as Akasha and Stuart Townsend as Lestat.

The Tale of the Body Thief
Published in 1992, The Tale of the Body Thief is a departure from Rice’s previous settings in history, with the novel set entirely in the late 20th century. Dealing with Lestat’s desperation to be free from the nightmare of his own immortality and his efforts to regain his lost humanity, it tells the tale of a mysterious figure, Raglan James, who has the ability to switch bodies and thus, possesses the cure for Lestat’s depression and conflicts. A unique and unconventional tale of despair and redemption.

Memnoch The Devil
Probably the boldest and most controversial book in the series, Memnoch the Devil goes back to the beginning of Creation and is a breathtaking and ambitious tale that reinterprets biblical stories to create a complete history of Earth, Heaven and Hell.

Imaginative as only Anne Rice can be, Lestat finally meets the Devil, who calls himself "Memnoch" and he takes Lestat on a whirlwind tour of biblical history, Heaven and Hell in an attempt to convince Lestat to join him in a noble quest. Lestat even meet God and his time on earth as Jesus. Lavishly narrated, it is an epic reinterpretation of biblical history and brought the Vampire Chronicles to a close.

Not surprisingly, with Rice’s portrayal of God as a flawed being and the idea that Jesus sacrifice was insufficient, Memnoch the Devil came under severe criticisms from Christians as being heretical and blasphemous.

*Related posts :
- In Memory Of Gary Jennings
- A Blast From The Past - My Journey With Stephen King


19 comments:

Cromely said...

I really enjoyed Rice's Vampire stories, including the new ones like Blood Canticle. The rich detail was amazing.

I wasn't a big fan of the Tale of the Body Thief, but beside that, they were great.

Inter View with Vampire remains one of my favorite movies of all time. Though now when I watch the Spiderman movies, I still sometimes see Claudia instead of Mary Jane.

My Den said...

Hi Cromely,
Anne Rice's stories have distinctive qualities of rich details and lush narration, something that is rare for the horror genre and which I had enjoyed tremendously.

And who could forget Claudia, the tragic vampire locked in a child's body.

Great to hear from you again.
Best.
Dan

Michael said...

My wife and I are huge Anne Rice fans. When we went to New Orleans a few years ago, my wife spent a lot of time tracking down all of the mentioned locations in that great city. That being said, her more recent books got more and more religious and less "story". Of course all of this culminated in her retelling of the life Jesus's in "Christ Our Lord: Out Of Egypt". "Christ Our Lord: The Road To Cana" is due to be released this coming Tuesday.

My Den said...

Hi Michael,
Anne Rice had enchanted millions worldwide with her vampire literature and I guess an equal number would have mourned the loss of such rich tales when she reaffirmed her faith in 2005.

Having said that, I also look at it as an attempt by Rice to utilize her immense talents in another genre. And I very sure that "Christ Our Lord: Out Of Egypt" would be a
resounding success for the religious.

Like many Anne Rice fans, I did have the thought of visiting New Orleans one day and try to trace the many locations mentioned in her Chronicles and I hope you and your wife have a great time.

Wonderful to have you here.
Dan

Keli said...

I agree - Anne Rice's books had many lush details and excellent character development. It seemed obvious that she spent enormous effort on creating that world which makes me wonder if it just wasn't too much for her? Perhaps these realistic vampires roaming the earth are what made her switch directions in her writing.

My Den said...

Hi Keli,
Interesting thought. That's something that had never occurred to me. But there were times that I wished the Vampire Chronicles never ended.

Thanks for dropping by and while you caught "stiffless" the last time round, this time you missed "Vampiric" :)
Dan

haleyhughes said...

I haven't picked up an Anne Rice novel in years. She started to lose me at about the time of "Violin".

With that said, the hardcover editions of her vampire and witch books still have a prominent place on my bookshelf. I personally prefer The Vampire Lestat over Queen of the Damned, but only because Queen of the Damned switches point of view so much and I found it harder to stay immersed in the characters.

This discussion has intrigued me, so I'm off to Amazon to peruse the shelves for more recent Anne Rice titles. :)

Brian said...

I was a huge fan of Anne Rice's horror work, including the Vampire novels, Ramses, and the Witching Hour series... The last one of the Vampire novels didn't do anything for me unfortunately. I think after her husband died, she lost that part of her.

My Den said...

@Brian,
Not many people realize that her husband, Stan, was a big part of her life and shared her love for writing.
And it might have something to do with Rice's decision to write solely for the Lord.
Thanks for dropping by.

@Haley Hughes
I am glad that so many enjoyed and remembered Anne Rice magical tales and this discussion has been an
enjoyable trip down memory lane for me.
Best
Dan

chilly said...

:( I'll try this again. Looks like Blogger comments are messing up again.

Hello! Great blog, great reading indeed. I'll have to visit more. :)

ettarose said...

Ann Rice still remains one of my favorite Authors. I loved the richness of detail, and I know that there are more like me that wished, if only for a second, that we too could join the world of the undead. She did make it seem so romantic.

Covered Calls said...

One of the first books I remember reading was Interview with a Vampire. If you ever need a great way of spending some quality hours, Anne Rice is definitely the way to go.

poohdedoo said...

Anne Rice's stories have nice plots very interesting nd creative

LisaMM said...

I read the whole series except for Memnoch the Devil. I don't know why I never got around to that one. The Vampire Lestat was my favorite.

Carolyn B. said...

Hi, no need to respond -- I just wanted to mention that your blog is mentioned and linked in a blogpost of mine. I wrote a meme (explained here: http://snurl.com/29mi7 ) and included your blog's name in what I wrote for that meme, posted here: http://snurl.com/29mie .

Best regards! - Carolyn Bahm

Elle said...

Just put down Interview with a Vampire earlier this evening-- reread it for the first time since forever. I have a teeny disagreement withyour assessment of Interview -- Louis was really the vampire with a conscience; Lestat was the object of his hatred because he was so remorseless. After all, it was Lestat who blithely made Claudia.

Being a NOLA girl, I was already in love with the settings of Anne Rice's books, and both the Vampire and the Mayfair Witches series sharpened my longing for home. Good thing I'm only a couple hours' drive away! I agree, she seemed to lose steam when Stan died.

Mo said...

Anne Rice is incredible and I've read the entire Vampire Series - wonderful

Tracee said...

Love the Vampire Chronicles and the Mayfair Witch books as well

Rich Dansereau said...

I am a huge fan of her work. I really can't narrow it down as she paints such vivid pictures that you can almost see yourself or the characters in whatever the setting might be. I think one of my favorite books of hers is Cry To Heaven.