prince-lestat

When Anne Rice announced on Facebook sometime in 2013-14 that Lestat was talking to her again, we the Peoples of the Page went into raptures because we like Lestat, and we like it very much when Lestat takes over her Facebook page. Lestat of course chooses Facebook because in social media, he writes novellas, not status updates. Status updates are for mortals like Anne Rice.

In 2014, Chronicle #11 was released, almost a decade after Anne swore off writing about the Vampire Chronicles vampires again. But here we are, back in the ‘savage garden’, thanks to Lestat’s refusal to not ever be in the spotlight. Anyone who has read at least 1 or 11 Vampire Chronicles knows one undeniable fact: A brat gets what a brat wants.

In Prince Lestat she readies the world for this new era where vampires have inhabited the world in their own terms; that means no more silly Ten Commandments-style rules (see: The Vampire Armand). She offers an explanation for what has happened thus far and a mini-reference guide to vampire jargon. The way to let everyone in to this new vampire, it seems, is to over-explain. This goes well with Lestat’s newfound swagger of being current and his intention to leave the doors to the vampire world wide open.

Despite his preference for fashion that kids today would find daffy, Lestat is nothing but open to new experiences. Such experiences include using an iPhone, emailing, listening to podcasts, becoming a baby daddy, and leading a pack of bloodsuckers whose combined strength, knowledge, and mind and fire gifts could not hold a candle to his magnetism, impulsiveness, and questionable but indispensable leadership. There is not a thing in Prince Lestat that I find hard to believe.

There is also a sense of vampires having become citizens of the world, peacefully coexisting with humans who still believe them to be a figment of their fevered imagination (despite Benji’s very convincing vampire broadcasts). Humans who drop dead in alleys are still believed to be victims of cardiac arrest rather than of vampires’ insatiable appetite. The world is at peace where the undead are alive and well but staying low-key.

But all is truly not well in the vampire world. A capital M mysterious voice is sowing fear in the non-beating hearts of immortals, and to calm their inactive nerves they summon the one immortal who can save them from themselves. “The Voice” is whispering to vampire ears everywhere – and they are not sweet nothings – with the weak ones falling prey to the seemingly motiveless voice that admonishes mass murder among their kind. Because the book is not called ‘Prince Louis’ or ‘King Armand’, it’s the brat prince himself who takes over vampires-saving duties. Whether he would do so competently is open to discussion.

Anne Rice wasn’t going to return to The Vampire Chronicles half-heartedly. Here, she brings every character that has ever appeared in all 10 books and their ghosts. Quinn Blackwood, Merrick, and the Mayfairs were, sadly, no-shows.

As with any book from TVC, Prince Lestat was not spared some biting criticisms, one of which is the inclusion of characters that don’t serve any purpose but to prolong the vampiric conversations. As a person of the page, ie, long-time reader/Lestat groupie, I expect these supposed failings, but I can’t say that I enjoyed reading about vampires sit around describing each other’s extraordinary beauty. I already know that Louis, Armand, Jesse, David, et al beat the entire vampire and human race in beauty, thanks Ms. Anne.

Another gripe against Prince Lestat is its wordiness – as if a Vampire Chronicle devoted to the magnificence of Lestat would be made in less than 200 pages? The prose is as indulgent as it has ever been, and I myself find this supposed crime indefensible. The thing is, this isn’t Anne Rice’s first, second or 22nd book. If you’ve read the entire Chronicles and everything else in her bibliography, then this is something you could smell from a mile away. If you want taut and quick-paced, re-read The Tale of the Body Thief. No sane reader of TVC, new or old, should pick up an Anne Rice novel and expect littleness, whether in theme, scope, or characterization.

The thrill I got from reading Lestat, though, came mostly from the meta-commentaries on the author’s previous work, specifically the ‘deep current psychological observation that united these works’. Also thrilling is vampires dabbling into science. It’s amazing they haven’t tried going into space to become the greatest astronauts the earth has ever known. One thing that stood out, in the worst possible way was the prince’s sudden change of heart for The Voice. I’m not spoiling anything by saying that the way he embraces it after everything is such silly bullshit. Everyone knows Lestat is a brat and he’ll do and love as he pleases, but that sudden change of heart made the lead-up to the semi-thrilling confrontation seem inconsequential.

Unlike other readers who feel personally betrayed by Lestat’s lunatic decisions (actual responsible person: Lestat’s ghost author Anne Rice) who swear off reading any more future vampire tales, I’ll stay hooked. With this renewed interest in Lestat, there will be no end in sight for vampires and their vivid, hyper-indulgent chronicles. They may be using iPhones now, but they’re still the same old brood of blood-hungry beauties who like to sleep in the dirt. Like the series they belong to, they know their place in the world and they’ll live in it as they please.

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For Chrissake

Out of Egypt

The moment Anne Rice said she’s no longer going to write about vampires, witches and bitches, and that she would instead be writing about Jesus Christ’s early years, I knew there’s no way I would enjoy any of it even if she cuts out all those descriptions of Italian curtains, Greek chairs and Roman marble columns. I think I actually miss her extensive cataloguing of various furniture in her books. And it’s true, I did not fully enjoy Out of Egypt, the first in her Christ the Lord series, a series that couldn’t be more different from the Vampire Chronicles and Witching Hour.

If you’d ever read or had been fascinated by her alternate universes of vampires taking nutrition from menstruating nuns  and ghost granddaddies impregnating granddaughters, then you probably earn the right to be a little miffed that the genius behind such concepts is now satiating the very demographic that her old series’ followers isn’t from. In short, she’s gone Chistian and there’s no turning back.

Out of Egypt shows an improvement in her prose, though. Gone are the long descriptions of inanimate and unimportant objects, and trading that for slightly better characterization of the book’s anti-Lestat, Jesus Christ. I was worried that she’d make Jesus speak tons of Egypt’s fine sands, gorgeous Egyptians, silky smooth Egyptian hair, and ornate sandals. That was not to be the case as Jesus in this book is a 7-year old, slightly clueless boy who mysteriously but skillfully heals dead people, just as skillfully and stealthily he kills them.

The only people Jesus is killing in this book, I would imagine are the old Rice fans. But if you take the time to realize the radical shift in faith it took her to write this, then it might not be too hard to accept that she just had to change and that there are other vampire books to be had anyway. The Twilight series, for example. But that would probably suck for you. If I were to be my old spiteful self, I’d probably think that this series is Anne giving the finger to those who maligned her, her faith and her skills as a writer, when the final V-Chronicle book came out and many called her, well, a witch and other unflattering names.

Say what you will of Anne but her immersion in the things that fascinate her are undeniable and all we could do, the followers or followers-turned hecklers, is to wait to get amazed again, even if it looks like it’s going to take quite a long time.

Fanne Rice

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I’ve been obsessing about Anne Rice lately. I keep thinking, what if she finally dies? Sorry for being morbid but, what if she does? For the last 5 years, all she ever wrote are her Jesus novels (which I prefer to get from the likes of Christopher Moore who gives Jesus hard-on and other sorts of unmessiah-like virtues) and her Christian-themed memoir Called Out of Darkness.

In college, I had obsessed even harder. In my so-called book review of Blood Canticle in the college paper, I prepared extra hard to write the most flattering, most know-it-all sounding book review of the last Chronicle to come out of Miss Rice’s most fabulous and most popular series, The Vampire Chronicles. I’d be the happiest fanboy if I could just get that ‘review’ published. You know how college writers are: so eager to dazzle the studentry with their gorgeous prose, with their world-changing take on the latest popular novel as if their sad, would-be ignored, cookie-cutter reviews will ever be read by anyone other than the editors and their sad selves. Me, I didn’t care. I just wanted to show off and hoped that Anne Rice herself will one day will read my review of her book.

As preparation for this, I’ve read every single Amazon review there is on Blood Canticle and they were among the most vicious criticisms I’ve ever read. The Anne Rice fans were vicious just because they weren’t happy about the final Lestat novel. I took this personally and may even have made an Amazon account just to get back at the retards who called Anne a hack. Fortunately for them, Amazon does not allow reviews from wannabes because they have a way of detecting. Joke lang. To be an Amazon reviewer as it turns out, you need to have purchased at least one item. Then October came and I was finally able to read the book in all its tarnished glory.

It sucked!

In a way, I was more relieved because it was certainly easier for me to malign, hate, criticize something I didn’t like. And I know Anne Rice so it would be very easy. Though she may never come across my beautiful writing as I wish she would, I still have the same hopes for vampire lit’s most enduring, most flamboyant, and sexiest vamp tramp Lestat. I thought Lestat should have had a more proper exit, a more bombastic one, any kind of exit befitting the true prince of vampire literature. If you’ve ever cared for Anne’s works, you’ll have no trouble denouncing Blood Canticle as an  instrument of destruction which in its very slim form, took all but 400 pages to ruin whatever fantasies, hopes and dreams (of movie adaptations, musicals, etc) you may have had turned into, uh, ashes.

I have been looking for some thing to devoted ungodly fanaticism to but I just can’t find one as enduring as Anne Rice. She’s about to turn 69 this October 14 and to be symbolic about it, I am rereading Prism of the Night: A Biography of Anne Rice by Katherine Ramsland. I have a month to finish it and even though it’s Anne Rice-novel long, I’d still gladly indulge and set aside Blackwood Farm for the meantime. I have yet to find a thing to fanatically follow so I really hope she doesn’t die soon, and that she starts revamping The Vampire Chronicles soon. A fanboy can hope.

Dear Anne, if you’re reading this, happy 69th!