Anne Rice 1941-
(Also wrote under pseudonyms Anne Rampling and A. N. Roquelaure) American novelist.
The following entry presents an overview of Rice's career.
Anne Rice is the best-selling author of mainstream gothic fiction that centers on the alluring subjects of vampirism, occult demonology, and the supernatural. Her debut novel, Interview with the Vampire (1976), attracted a large popular audience and established her as a foremost contemporary author of horror fiction. Subsequent installments in the “Vampire Chronicles” series, including The Vampire Lestat (1985) and The Queen of the Damned (1988), fortified her reputation as a highly imaginative writer of macabre fantasy. Rice's engaging novels are distinguished for their richly descriptive settings, provocative eroticism, and looming metaphysical concerns that reflect the precarious nature of religious faith and truth in the postmodern world. Her vampires, demons, and historical personages are typically dispossessed or alienated individuals who wrestle with existential questions of morality, religion, sex, and death. Though best known for her “Vampire Chronicles” and “Mayfair Witches” series, Rice has also published several successful historical novels, The Feast of All Saints (1980) and Cry to Heaven (1982), both of which feature exotic historical settings and social outcasts.
Born Howard Allen O'Brien in New Orleans, Louisiana, Rice was named after her postal worker father, Howard O'Brien, and mother, Katherine Allen O'Brien. As a child she disliked her first name so much that she changed it to Anne in grade school. The second of four sisters, Rice grew up in the blue-collar “Irish Channel” neighborhood of New Orleans. The Irish Channel borders the affluent Garden District of the city, and Rice mentions walking by the neighborhood's opulent homes, conscious of her status as an outsider, as an influence on her life and work. Rice attended a Catholic church throughout her childhood, though eventually rejected organized religion as a teenager. After her mother's death from alcoholism when Rice was fourteen, the family moved to Texas, where Rice met her high-school sweetheart and husband, poet Stan Rice. They married in 1961 and shortly afterward moved to San Francisco, where their daughter, Michelle, was born.
Rice initially attended Texas Women's University but transferred to San Francisco State University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in political science in 1964 and a Master of Arts in creative writing in 1971. She also took graduate classes at the University of California, Berkeley. When Michelle, then five years old, died of leukemia in 1972, Rice and her husband sought solace in alcohol, a destructive pattern that lasted several years. Rice found some measure of relief by writing Interview with the Vampire in only five weeks; the novel's child-vampire character, Claudia, resembles Michelle in age and appearance. Two works of historical fiction, The Feast of All Saints and Cry to Heaven followed during the early 1980s before Rice returned to vampires. Her popularity soared with the 1985 publication of the second book in the “Vampire Chronicles” series, The Vampire Lestat, followed by The Queen of the Damned, a Literary Guild main selection, in 1988, The Tale of the Body Thief (1992), Memnoch the Devil (1995), and The Vampire Armand (1998). The popular “Mayfair Witches” series, comprised of The Witching Hour (1990), a Book-of-the-Month selection, Lasher (1993), and Taltos (1994), added to her popularity and incredible commercial success. Rice also adapted Interview with the Vampire into the screenplay for the Hollywood film version of the novel, starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, which appeared in 1994. Rice returned to New Orleans in 1988, purchasing a mansion in the Garden District, which serves as the setting for her books about the Mayfair Witches. She lives there today with her husband and son, Christopher.
Rice's fiction revolves around the situations of outsiders and misfits in society, questions of atheism and agnosticism, and themes of power and submission. Often including supernatural characters and plotting, Rice's work is noted for its darkness, eroticism, and evocation of setting and historical detail. In Interview with the Vampire a vampire named Louis relates his life story and adventures to a reporter who tape-records their session. Recalling his transformation as a vampire in 1790 at age twenty-five, Louis describes his first kill and evolving relationships with Lestat, his maker, and Claudia, a child-vampire whom they have created together. Unlike Claudia and Lestat who revel in murderous bloodshed, Louis is tormented by a moral dilemma—he believes it is wrong to kill, but he must kill to eat. An ensuing power struggle between Louis and Lestat results in Lestat's second death, for which Louis is imprisoned in the Theatre des Vampires, a coven of vampires in Paris. After burning the Theatre and escaping with Armand, an older vampire who mentors him, Louis returns to New Orleans where he is an outcast. As in much gothic fiction, underlying themes of homoeroticism and incest are prevalent throughout the novel. Rice also examines religious beliefs by comparing Louis, who tries and fails to construct his own moral framework, to his brother, a devout Roman Catholic. In the sequel, The Vampire Lestat, Lestat awakes from a moribund slumber in the year 1980, upon which he becomes a leather clad rock star. Presented as an autobiographic account, the novel traces the origins and history of vampirism through ancient, medieval, and modern history. The story concludes as Lestat performs in San Francisco to an audience of vampires who prepare to kill him for revealing their secrets in his published autobiography and lyrics. A continuation of the previous novel, The Queen of the Damned involves Akasha, mother of all vampires, whose scheme to institute world peace involves exterminating most of the male population and founding an empire governed by women.
In The Tale of the Body Thief Lestat contemplates suicide and eventually agrees to exchange his body with a mortal to temporarily escape his relentless ennui. Lestat must relearn mortal habits and a desperate chase follows after his counterpart disappears with his immortal body. Rice grapples with a shift in her personal philosophy from atheism to uncertainty about God's existence in Memnoch the Devil, in which Lestat converses with God and the Devil and tours Hell before deciding whether to join forces with the Devil. In The Vampire Armand, the sixth installment of the “Vampire Chronicles,” Rice resurrects the title character, who earlier succumbed to a lethal dose of sunlight. Armand recollects his apprenticeship to Marius De Romanus in sixteenth-century Venice and subsequent rise as head of a Parisian vampire clan.
The “Mayfair Witches” series features Rowan Mayfair, scion of a matrilineal old New Orleans family whose members possess supernatural gifts and have been shadowed through time by a mysterious entity named Lasher. These books are characterized by intricate plotting, cliffhanger endings, and frequent flashbacks that tell the story of the Mayfair family's entanglement with Lasher over hundreds of years. The Mummy (1992) takes place in London, where young Julie Stratford falls in love with the reanimated mummy of Pharaoh Ramses III, who possesses the secret elixir of life. Julie and Ramses travel to Egypt where Ramses revives a murderous Cleopatra. In Servant of the Bones (1996), the genie Azriel fights the attempts of a demented millionaire to commit genocide on the population of the Third World.
Rice combined her interest in history with her exploration of social exiles by writing two historical novels. The Feast of All Saints enters the world of the gens de couleur, the group of free mulattoes who lived in antebellum New Orleans. The story focuses on the experiences of siblings Marcel and Marie, whose distinctive golden skin prohibits their full acceptance within either black or white society. Cry to Heaven centers upon the life of an eighteenth-century Italian castrati, a male singer who is castrated as a boy to preserve his high voice. The protagonist, Tonio Treschi, attempts to fulfill his desire to become one of the greatest opera singers in Europe while plotting revenge on his brother for treacherously having him castrated and exiled. Both books focus on characters who, like Rice's vampires and witches, exist on the fringes of mainstream society without being accepted by it. Rice also explored her fascination with sadomasochism by writing a pseudonymous series of pornographic novels—The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty (1983), Beauty's Punishment (1984), and Beauty's Release (1985) as A. N. Roquelaure and Exit to Eden (1985) and Belinda (1986) as Anne Rampling.
Most critics recognize Rice's remarkable talent for constructing page-turning plots, evoking a sense of place—particularly when writing about her native New Orleans—and creating whole new universes peopled by supernatural characters. She is widely praised for rejuvenating the hackneyed genre of vampire fiction with her intelligent, ambitious novels. Rice's novels are also noted for their appealing eroticism and have attracted the interest of gay readers who identify with the themes of alienation depicted in the underground culture of vampiric society. However, Rice's major goal—acceptance as a serious writer by the literary fiction world—has so far eluded her. Though some critics appreciate Rice's philosophical musings on immortality and incorporation of occult history in her novels, others find her writing verbose, implausible, and clichéed. Some dismiss her otherworldly subject matter and frequent erotic descriptions as unworthy of serious literary effort. Reviewers have criticized Rice's later work, notably Servant of the Bones and Memnoch the Devil, for frequent and lengthy digressions from plot and description to use her characters as mouthpieces for Rice's ideas of philosophy and life. Despite such criticism, Rice remains one of the United States's best-selling authors. Her weird casts of characters and fantastic storylines hold a terrific appeal for readers and have broken new ground in contemporary literature. As Susan Ferraro writes in New York Magazine: “Rice's vampires are loquacious philosophers who spend much of eternity debating the nature of good and evil. Trapped in immortality, they suffer human regret. They are lonely, prisoners of circumstance, compulsive sinners, full of self-loathing and doubt. The are, in short, Everyman Eternal.”
Interview with the Vampire (novel) 1976
The Feast of All Saints (novel) 1980
Cry to Heaven (novel) 1982
The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty [as A. N. Roquelaure] (novel) 1983
Beauty's Punishment [as A. N. Roquelaure] (novel) 1984
Beauty's Release: The Continued Erotic Adventures of Sleeping Beauty [as A. N. Roquelaure] (novel) 1985
Exit to Eden [as Anne Rampling] (novel) 1985
The Vampire Lestat (novel) 1985
Belinda [as Anne Rampling] (novel) 1986
The Queen of the Damned (novel) 1988
The Mummy: or, Ramses the Damned (novel) 1989
The Witching Hour (novel) 1990
The Tale of the Body Thief (novel) 1992
Lasher (novel) 1993
Interview with the Vampire (screenplay) 1994
Taltos (novel) 1994
Memnoch the Devil (novel) 1995
Servant of the Bones (novel) 1996
Violin (novel) 1997
The Vampire Armand (novel) 1998
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SOURCE: “The Alienated World of the Mutilated Men,” in Los Angeles Times Book Review, December 19, 1982, p. 11.
[In the following review, Hilton offers qualified praise for A Cry to Heaven.]
Guido Maffeo was castrated when he was 6 years old. Born the 11th child in a peasant family, where hunger and cruelty were routine, the boy was taken gently, petted and fed; even the knife was not used unkindly. Although the memory of the surgery never left him, he had exchanged what he would not experience for a profession that afforded him a passion some men might envy.
Tonio Treschi was not so fortunate with his memories. At 15 he had already tasted the joys of sex; he had a strong sense of manhood, pride and heritage. The knife was applied violently, a shocking act of brutality and misplaced revenge. The mutilation stripped him of his family, of his position in the culture, of his masculinity and pride. He was thrust into a profession for which he was qualified by virtue of talent, but of which he was an unwilling and humiliated member.
Once again author Anne Rice delves into a society of the alienated. Her provocative first novel. Interview With the Vampire, was followed by The Feast of All Saints, a tale of the quadroons of New Orleans in the 19th Century. Now eunuchs. The 18th-Century castrati were usually selected because of their beautiful voices, and the...
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SOURCE: “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes,” in Washington Post Book World, November 6, 1988, pp. 8-9.
[In the following excerpt, Bleiler evaluates The Queen of the Damned in relation to previous volumes of “The Vampire Chronicles.”]
I did things backwards when I approached Anne Rice's The Queen of the Damned, the third volume in her “Vampire Chronicles.” I read it first, then the second volume (The Vampire Lestat) and, last of all, Interview with the Vampire, the first book in the series. In one way this turned out to be an advantage, since I could see the latest book as an independent work, as a new reader might see it and not as a book sustained by others. As a disadvantage, I first thought, there might be a problem coming in cold on situations, events, and personalities all based on the past.
It turned out, when I read the other two novels, that the problem wasn't a large one. The carry-over from The Vampire Lestat is not great, and Interview with the Vampire is not only irrelevant, but somewhat misleading to later developments. The author seems to have replanned her work after writing the interview.
Rice's vampire world was easily picked out from The Queen of the Damned, and it is very different from the classical pattern that J. M. Rymer, J. S. Le Fanu, and Bram Stoker established. For Rice a vampire's...
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SOURCE: “A History of the Undead,” in Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 6, 1988, p. 13.
[In the following review, Coven offers favorable assessment of The Queen of the Damned.]
In Interview With the Vampire, the first volume of the “Vampire Chronicles,” Anne Rice ushers us into the eerily succulent, yet refined world of Louis de Pointe du Lac, a man who became a vampire in late-18th-Century New Orleans.
The second book, The Vampire Lestat, explodes with fury into the world of high-tech 20th-Century San Francisco. Lestat, the charismatic iconoclast of the undead, relates his tale from his human youth as a French nobleman of the early 1700s to his ascension to rock superstardom and cult hero worship as a modern-day vampire.
With The Queen of the Damned, Anne Rice has created universes within universes, traveling back in time as far as ancient, pre-pyramidic Egypt and journeying from the frozen mountain peaks of Nepal to the crowded, sweating streets of southern Florida.
In all truth, the epic scope of this novel is mandated by the profound mysteries and timeless questions which Rice seeks to answer. What lies beyond death? What is the nature of goodness? Is there meaning to life? But here these age-old enigmas are mulled over, puzzled through and furiously attacked, not by mere mortals, but by the blood-sucking undead....
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SOURCE: “Do Not Speak Ill of the Undead,” in New York Times Book Review, November 27, 1988, pp. 12-3.
[In the following review, Kraft offers tempered assessment of The Queen of the Damned. According to Kraft, Rice's “enormous ability” as a novelist is “wasted on vampires.”]
When last we saw him, in the second book of Anne Rice's vampire chronicles, the vampire Lestat was a rock star, flaunting his evil ways before a horde of screaming mortal fans in San Francisco, sweating blood under hot lights. Then suddenly he was being attacked—not by Tipper Gore and her committee for cleaner language in popular music, but by a gang of the undead, bent on destroying him because his lyrics and autobiography named names and revealed secrets. Just in the nick of time, though, Lestat hopped into his Porsche and fled into a gap between installments.
The Queen of the Damned opens before the concert, with angry blood drinkers plotting to destroy the rogue spiller of the vampire beans. A Lestat cult has arisen among young mortals, so the real vampires don't have much trouble mixing with the fans, who emulate vampire style and hang out at a bar called Dracula's Daughter. Lestat has some supporters among the undead, including Akasha, the original vampire, mother of all the others, queen of the damned. She's been catatonic for centuries, seated on a throne in a crypt deep in the...
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SOURCE: “Undead and Unstoppable,” in New York Times Book Review, June 11, 1989, p. 9.
[In the following review, Prial offers qualified praise for The Mummy, though finds fault in Rice's prose. “If you liked her vampires,” Prial concludes, “you'll love her mummies.”]
In George Axelrod's Hollywood spoof of a generation back, “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?,” a veteran hack explains to a young writer that film lovers can't just meet—“They gotta meet cute.”
“How about this?” the neophyte replies. “He's a shrink, she's a hooker, and they meet at the upholsterer's getting their couches fixed.”
In her latest novel, The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned, Anne Rice gives new meaning to meeting cute. Julie Stratford has soft brown eyes, porcelain cheeks, a guileless mouth and is 20 years old. Ramses II, a k a Ramses the Great and, to close friends, Ramses the Damned, is manly, stalwart and, oh, around 3,000 years old, give a dynasty or two.
They meet in London, in Julie's home. It's 1914.
The face, my God, the face. There were eyes there, great shining blue eyes under the thin wrappings. It reached up suddenly and tore loose the bandages … from its skull and released a soft mop of brown hair.
Then it rose on its knees with quiet...
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SOURCE: “The Curse of Ancient Egypt,” in New Statesman & Society, September 1, 1989, pp. 31-2.
[In the following review, Carter offers favorable assessment of The Mummy.]
According to Franco Morretti (Dialectic of Fear), the tale of terror relies for its specific frisson on repression. “The repressed returns … but disguised as a monster.” The horror novels of Anne Rice comprehensively trash this theory; she lets the repressed return in splendour. When the crumbling bandages at last fall from the eponymous mummy of this, her latest novel, young Julie Stamford, the shipping heiress, reels back, but not in horror.
“Dear God, she thought, this is not merely a man gifted with beauty; this is the most beautiful man I've ever seen.”
Ramses III, former Pharoah of Egypt, is, admittedly, not so much one of the undead as an immortal. He may make his entrance in a manner characteristic of a fifties movie ghoul but he is also an intellectual giant and a formidable sexual athlete, to boot. This is the return of the repressed, not as Dracula but as Rhett Butler. What is going on? More than meets the eye, probably. Anne Rice is a writer of great scope, invention, imaginative energy and sexual daring who has opted to work in mass market genre fiction. Her work in the “tale of terror” is also a kind of commentary on the idea of the tale of...
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SOURCE: “Ghastly and Unnatural Ambitions,” in New York Times Book Review, November 4, 1990, p. 11.
[In the following review, McGrath offers unfavorable assessment of The Witching Hour, citing weak characterization and repetitiousness as the novel's major flaws.]
The evil that blights the pages of The Witching Hour, Anne Rice's new novel, has an intriguing origin. In the 1600's, in Scotland, a naïve young woman called Suzanne Mayfair learns for a lark how to summon demons. Later she's burned at the stake, but the demon she summons, Lasher by name, goes on to bedevil her descendants down to the present day, apparently seeing in them the means of fulfilling his ghastly and unnatural ambitions. In the process he turns them into a “witch family,” a witch here being “a person who can attract and manipulate unseen forces.”
But what's interesting about poor Suzanne's fate is that it's a witch judge, an inquisitor, who teaches her how to rouse Lasher in the first place—as if the law, in its zeal, actually foments transgression, the better to serve its function. It's this sort of complex intertwining of antagonistic forces—moral, psychological and finally biological—that forms the basic structural principle of this huge and sprawling tale of horror.
Lasher is really the protagonist of The Witching Hour. Possibly he's Satan; possibly...
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SOURCE: “The Queen of Darkness,” in Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 18, 1990, pp. 1, 8.
[In the following review, Brown offers enthusiastic praise for The Witching Hour, which she hails as “[Rice's] best novel yet.”]
The Witching Hour unfolds like a poisonous lotus blossom redolent with luxurious evil. Or so it would seem to a Medieval or “born-again” Christian. For those Christians and non-Christians not fearful of stories about unearthly powers, witches and secular resurrections, this novel will delight the senses.
Author Anne Rice uses her beloved New Orleans to good effect. Of all American cities, it is the least Puritan and the most resistant to English priggishness.
Michael Curry, the primary male character and an impoverished native of this delicious city, dies and is brought back to life by Rowan Mayfair, a woman of science who happens to have magical powers. However, the price of resurrection comes very high, and Michael is drawn into an ancient web spun for more than three centuries by a dynasty of witches and a demon named Lasher—souls, undead, yet not alive either. They need Michael and Rowan for their purposes.
Rice thoroughly enjoys herself as she slides through 17th-Century France, the fetid plantations in Port-au-Prince, the pain of the Civil War South and the seeming “normalcy” of today's San...
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SOURCE: “Postexistentialism in the Neo-Gothic Mode: Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire,” in Mosaic, Vol. 25, No. 3, Summer, 1992, pp. 79-97.
[In the following essay, Waxman explores the confluence of existential philosophy, postmodernism, and gothic fiction in Interview with the Vampire and subsequent Rice novels. According to Waxman, “Rice presents with fervor a profound exploration of freedom, moral constraints and contingency in order to prepare us for the philosophical issues that face us on the darkling plain of the twenty-first century.”]
Serious philosophical questioning, ethical inquiry, struggles of individuals to shape their identity and create a meaningful existence are not uncommon in twentieth-century American literature. Recently, however, a writer of “popular” fiction, Anne Rice, has carried these philosophical themes into a seemingly unusual genre: Gothic vampire fiction. In such novels as Interview with the Vampire (1976), Rice is not only chilling readers' spines but drawing their minds into the angst of twentieth-century philosophical inquiry. According to Rice—who has been an enthusiastic reader of such existentialist philosophers as Kierkegaard, Camus and Sartre since her college days—the intensely emotional moods, strange atmospheres and supernatural elements of Gothic fiction are “the most powerful means … for writing about real...
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SOURCE: “Vampire Tans! News at 11,” in Los Angeles Times Book Review, October 25, 1992, pp. 1, 9.
[In the following review, See offers praise for The Tale of the Body Thief.]
Anne Rice's elegant smoothie, the Vampire Lestat, is back, and up to all his old immortal tricks [in The Tale of the Body]. He's the same charmer, dressing in black velvet, meandering through museums to admire the Rembrandts, restoring a lovely crumbling mansion in New Orleans (that he himself lived in 100 years before). He's the same inveterate, starry-eyed tourist, zooming from London to Paris to Miami to New Orleans to South American jungles to Caribbean resorts, still absolutely gaga over each and every new excursion.
What a refined vampire! How given to nostalgia; his memories of the filthy 18th-Century French castle he grew up in, his recurring visions of little Claudia, the orphan he rescued from a plague-infested novel and played the “Dark Trick” on, turning her into an immortal, quintessential, ungrateful child, trying, as she did, to do away with him, but failing—of course. It's possible, in theory, to kill a vampire, but the vampire Lestat? Get serious.
For as Lestat himself announces, “No one out-shines this figure you see before you—no one! … I am not time's fool, nor a god hardened by the millennia; I am not the trickster in the black cape, nor...
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SOURCE: “The Demon Seed,” in Washington Post Book World, October 10, 1993, pp. 4-5.
[In the following review, Hand offers praise for Lasher.]
Is there a madder, badder, braver bestselling writer than Anne Rice? Maybe so—but it's hard to imagine anyone else being able to pull off the literary legerdemain that Rice manages in her new novel. With Lasher she concocts heady and potent salmagundi of contemporary witchcraft, Caribbean voodoo, aristocratic decadence and good old-fashioned Celtic paganism, and makes what should be an unpalatable mess as wickedly irresistible as a Halloween stash of Baby Ruths.
At the heart of all this is the Mayfair clan, the impossibly wealthy New Orleans dynasty of witches first encountered in her 1990 The Witching Hour. For centuries the fate of the Mayfairs has been entwined with that of Lasher's eponymous anti-hero, an androgynous being of dubious spiritual provenance who has been haunting family members since way back when they were getting burned at the stake. Now Lasher has been given corporeal being through the unwitting agency of Rowan Mayfair and her husband, Michael Curry. Rowan, a brilliant neurosurgeon who by virtue of her psychic abilities has been named chief witch of the Mayfair clan, is kidnapped and brutalized by Lasher. He seeks to impregnate her and so ensure the propagation of his kind—whatever his kind may be....
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SOURCE: “Witchcraft Is Their Science,” in New York Times Book Review, October 24, 1993, p. 38.
[In the following review, West offers tempered evaluation of Lasher.]
If you have read The Witching Hour, you will understand who's who among the horde of names unleashed in Anne Rice's new novel; Lasher. Reading the novel is often like hearing someone mumble on in a monotone about famous cricketers of the 19th-century when you, the reader, are a baseball fan or a fan of nothing at all.
Lasher, about the branches and generations of a witch matriarchy called Mayfair, evokes part of London once given over to a hospital for leprous women. In their complex comings and goings, the Mayfair witches wangle themselves into the fabric of New Orleans society with experienced ease; they are a subversive class that has risen and prospered over the centuries without always doing what they were best at: sorcery with malign intent, traffic with the Devil and the exercise of supernatural powers. Ms. Rice's witches are not broomstick riders, as in the old days, but Mafia wives encased in brainwashed daintiness. Witchcraft is the savviest science at least for them, and irresistible power is the book's focus: power passed on and made new, power grafted from nature and upturned against it. A strong theme, to be sure, but here tacked onto a silly vehicle.
Ms. Rice evokes a...
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SOURCE: “Son of a Witch,” in Washington Post Book World, October 9, 1994, p. 4.
[In the following review, Winter offers qualified assessment of Taltos. “Certain to please the many fans of Anne Rice,” writes Winter, Taltos “is not likely to gain her any new readers.”]
It seems natural that new novels by Stephen King and Anne Rice should be linked with the seemingly unavoidable word “horror.” Yet King writes from a decidedly populist perspective; he is a Faulkner by way of Jim Thompson, Don Robertson and Richard Matheson, with a lot of B movies and episodes of “Twilight Zone” and “Outer Limits” thrown in for good measure. The essence of his fiction is the disruption of everyday life by the outre: a funfair for the common man. Anne Rice, on the other hand, finds her roots in fairy tales; medieval romances and gothic novels—particularly the decadent “yellow gothics” that closed down the 19th century. Her perspective is patrician; the fundamental icon of her work is the elevated Outsider, the one person among us who is fated to a life that cannot be mundane—not everyman, but neverman.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in her new novel, Taltos, a romantic fantasy populated almost entirely by superhuman characters. Virtually devoid of the emotional aesthetics of horror—save for one skillfully enacted comeuppance—the novel is a curious...
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SOURCE: “Vampires in the (Old) New World: Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles,” in Reading the Vampire, Routledge, 1994, pp. 108-23.
[In the following essay, Gelder explores Rice's portrayal of vampire characters, family structures, and homoeroticism in Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, The Queen of the Damned, and The Tale of the Body Thief.]
The ‘vampire chronicle’—where the life and fortunes of a vampire are mapped out through a number of novels—is a recent development in popular horror fiction. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Hotel Transylvania (1978) was the first of a sequence of novels about le Comte de Saint-Germain, an aristocratic (and, as it happens, ambidextrous) vampire who effortlessly glides through history. She has also written a trilogy about a female vampire, Olivia, Saint-Germain's one and only true love. Patricia Nead Elrod's ‘vampire files’ series, which began with Bloodlist (1990), traces the fortunes of a vampire detective, Jack Fleming, in his search for the woman he loves— who, again, is another vampire. Yarbro in particular has sold well, marketed at one point as the ‘Queen of Horror’—although Hotel Transylvania has been out of print now for some time. But the best-known contemporary chronicler of vampires is without question Anne Rice.
Her first novel in the ‘Vampire Chronicles’, Interview with the...
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SOURCE: “The Devil and Anne Rice,” in Rolling Stone, July 13-27, 1995, pp. 92-4, 97-8.
[In the following interview, Rice discusses her literary career, critical reception, supernatural themes in her fiction, and Memnoch the Devil.]
For nearly 20 years now, Anne Rice has been telling stories that share secrets—secrets of life and death, of sex and the soul, of monsters and humans. In particular, though, it is with her series of novels known as The Vampire Chronicles that Rice has created her most binding mix of mystery and meaning as well as what may prove her most enduring body of literature. Interview With the Vampire (1976)—the first of the Vampire Chronicles and Rice's first published novel—is a horror narrative unlike any other. It is the story of Louis de Pointe du Lac, an 18th-century New Orleans plantation owner who has lost faith in his life and in God. Seeking death one night, Louis instead finds a vampire and a cruel paradox. This broken man who wanted to die must now endure lifetimes of no meaning, and he must murder daily to do so. Interview is also the story of the French-born Lestat de Lioncourt, the smart, mean aristocrat who made Louis a vampire, and Claudia, the child immortal who unites Louis and Lestat in a bitter kinship and eventually separates them at an awful price. Mostly, though, Interview With the Vampire is a haunting meditation on...
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SOURCE: “The Last of Lestat,” in Washington Post Book World, August 6, 1995, p. 2.
[In the following review, Allman offers favorable assessment of Memnoch the Devil.]
When it comes to fervent fandom, Anne Rice's partisans are up there with the Star Trek brigade. They love her dark imagination, her Gothic prose, her wry sense of humor and especially Lestat—the handsome, vain vampire who's become her signature character. Lestat and Rice are each the focus of a fan club, 'zines and an Internet group; Rice herself even pens a newsletter, “Commotion Strange,” full of Lestat-related news and views.
The latest issue of “Commotion Strange” brings the news that's broken the hearts of Lestatians everywhere: Rice has decided that Memnoch the Devil, the fifth installment in her Vampire Chronicles, will be the last Lestat story. That might be a wise decision, because Rice has painted herself into quite a corner with this one. By the end of Memnoch, there's not much for her favorite vampire to do but hop back in the box.
The book begins in modern Manhattan. Lestat is stalking his latest victim, Roger, a drug kingpin who has amassed a vast hoard of religious treasures in a private reliquary. Equally intriguing to the vampire is Roger's daughter Dora, a New Orleans televangelist with a soul as pure as her father's is corrupt. But Lestat himself is...
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SOURCE: “All This and Heaven Too,” in New York Times Book Review, August 11, 1996, p. 5.
[In the following review, Mendelsohn offers unfavorable assessment of Servant of the Bones.]
Anne Rice's latest supernatural melodrama, Servant of the Bones, is dedicated to God, and if God has any commercial savvy whatsoever, He'll dedicate His next book to her. The creator of Interview with the Vampire and its numerous best-selling sequels is bringing out her new book (part of which is set in an Old Testament milieu) in a first print run of one million copies; the Creator, on the other hand, has more than once had to resort to samizdat, distributing His work in tiny hand-copied editions that took centuries to find the right marketing niche, even after He'd achieved name recognition. You wonder when God will get a clue and move to Knopf.
Far more interesting to the student of commercial publishing are the striking similarities between God and Anne Rice. Both have cannily stuck throughout their careers to the Big Themes: good versus evil, mortality and immortality, that sort of thing. Both, moreover, have presented those themes accessibly enough to have won vast and occasionally fanatical international followings. And both, as a result, have become critic-proof. In Ms. Rice's case, her popularity seems, if anything, to have grown in inverse proportion to the readability of each new...
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SOURCE: “Dieting and Damnation: Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire,” in Blood Read: The Vampire as Metaphor in Contemporary Culture, edited by Joan Gordon and Veronica Hollinger, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997, pp. 95-113.
[In the following essay, Tomc explores the cultural significance of female body image, androgyny, and self-abnegation in Interview with the Vampire. According to Tomc, “Rice modeled the vampire's transformation on one of the most powerful narratives of gender metamorphosis available to 1970s culture: the story of successful dieting.”]
At one point in Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, the vampires Louis and Claudia journey to Eastern Europe on a quest to find others like themselves. Elegant, intelligent, and beautiful, Louis and Claudia are shocked to find that the fabled vampires of Romania are little more than zombies, rotten half-eaten corpses who suffer the fate of being animated. “I had met the European vampire, the creature of the Old World,” Louis pronounces as he kills the last of these. “He was dead.”
Although literally a comparison of monsters, Louis's words might just as well describe a generic as a narrative twist. In 1975, the year before Rice published Interview with the Vampire, Stephen King published his only vampire novel, Salem's Lot, a novel that featured vampires who resembled, to...
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Conway, Anne-Marie Conway. Review of The Tale of the Body Thief, by Anne Rice. Times Literary Supplement (11 December 1992): 20.
A favorable review of The Tale of the Body Thief.
Kendrick, Walter. “Better Undead Than Unread: Have Vampires Lost Their Bite?” New York Times Book Review (18 October 1992): 55.
Offers a summary of the “The Vampire Chronicles” and comments on Rice's significance as a leading author of contemporary vampire fiction.
Korn, Eric. “The Devil's Own Job.” Times Literary Supplement (17 November 1995): 8.
A review of Memnoch the Devil.
Leithauser, Brad. “Fear of Horror.” New York (24 July 1995): 44-5.
Discusses the supernatural fiction of Rice and Stephen King, with a brief review of Memnoch the Devil.
Morrison, Patt. “All Souls.” Los Angeles Times Book Review (31 October 1993): 3, 12.
A favorable review of Lasher.
Additional coverage of Rice's life and career is contained in the following sources published by the Gale Group: Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Vol. 9; Bestsellers, 89:2; Contemporary Authors, Vols. 65-68; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vols. 12, 36, 53; and DISCovering...
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