Anne Rice is one of my favorite authors, yet one I can no longer claim to absolutely love. I used to wait for the release of one of her books with bated breath. Hell, I was even a member of her fan club. I argued on her side when her fans were divided on Memnoch The Devil, a book which casts Lestat into the battle between God & Lucifer). Hell, I was even (quite literally) a card carrying member of the Anne Rice/Vampire Lestat Fan Club. Now it seems that she’s no longer happy with her fans, especially those who dare say her books aren’t as good as they used to be. It may take a moment to find Ms. Rice’s screed due to the large number of recent reviews/responses. (Via Metafilter poster headspace. Visit headspace’s site when you get a chance.)
But Anne, though she claims to be intellectually above everyone else, has made some poor choices. This was the woman who seemed ok with the fact that her erotic classic Exit To Eden was rewritten to include what surely should be classified as a WMD: Rosie O’Donnell in a Corset & Fishnets.
We’re talking about a movie so bad that Roger Ebert, who gave it a half star in what surely was a moment of pity, said
“It’s supposed to be a kinky sex comedy, but it keeps getting distracted. On the first page of my notes, I wrote “Starts slow.” On the second page, I wrote “Boring.” On the third page, I wrote “Endless!” On the fourth page, I wrote: “Bite-size Shredded Wheat, skim milk, cantaloupe, frozen peas, toilet paper, salad stuff, pick up laundry.”
Couple with that the fact that she also had no qualms about the Studios cramming 2 and a half of her books into the 101 minute Queen Of The Damned. Thanks Anne!
After Memnoch, Her books seriously went down hill and became more confusing. Characters would come and go, new vampires would appear with no reason and explain their previous absence from known record (and from being destroyed by the Queen during her killing spree) by saying, “Oh… I was asleep. Yep, asleep. In the Artic. Under a sheet of ice.”
But I kept with it. I read every single book in her Vampire Chronicles when it came out. I tried to get into the Mayfair Witches books with no success. And that’s where the problem started.
The Vampire Chronicles and the Mayfair Witches have always been loosely connected. They both largely take place in New Orleans. They both involve an secret organization called the Talamasca, which studies and chronicles the occult. But they really existed in two seperate New Orleans, each it’s own world. Then came Merrick Mayfair. The novel Merrick, while offically a Vampire novel, featured Merrick Mayfair, who happened to be the from the black side of the Mayfair family. Of course being from the south, Merrick was never mentioned (at least to my knowledge) in the polite society of the Mayfair novels.
When she brought these worlds crashing together, I couldn’t take it. There were references to the Mayfair novels that I didn’t get and Anne, via her website and her books, seemed to suggest that this was my fault. How dare I expect to enjoy any of her work if I wasn’t prepared to enjoy all of her work.
Going back over her work, it’s easy to see that she’s telling the truth when she says she has no editor. It explains why sometimes her stories seem less like tapestries and more like a ball of tangled yarn. It’s easy to find loose ends and you may destroy the ‘work’… but there’ll still be stuff you can’t untangle.
And I’d love to know Anne use one of the worst literary tools ever: The Person Shift.
The first two books in the series set up a premise that goes like this:
- Anne Rice doesn’t exist. It’s a pen name for the writer of the books
- The interviewer from Interview With The Vampire wrote that book because he didn’t feel anyone would believe him. BUT…
- Lestat himself wrote the second book as an answer to the first
This is where the Person Shift comes in. In The Vampire Lestat, Anne shifts from First Person to Third Person. Lestat starts off saying “I”, then says that it’s easier to describe the action from the third person. Suddenly he’s psychic and calling himself Lestat.
Since Anne states that “Lestat talks like me.”, I can only picture her at home. “Christopher Rice, pass Anne O’Brien Rice, your mother and International Bestselling Author and Modern Master of Horror, the mashed potatoes.”
As a writer (and proving to be as long winded as Rice by the letter), I can tell you that it is impossible to find Third Person easier to write in. First person is always easier to write in because humans naturally describe things from their point of view. ‘I did this, I did that.’ Its that simple.
And I’ve tried to stay away from talking about Chris Rice’s books, but I must. He is one of the worst writers on the planet. His books are predictable, his plot twists silly. C’mon… two of characters fall madly in love and are the only ones out of many who don’t DIE in the last chapter, and then suddenly it’s “Surprise, we have the same dad!”?
What the Hell? Your mom taught you how to write, didn’t she?
In closing, I guess I’ll simply state that I probably won’t ever read Blood Canticle. It’s not because I don’t want to see The Vampire Chronicles end.
It’s because I don’t want to see them end badly.