Considering my longtime fascination with our friends the Creatures of the Night, my latest reading obsession should come as little or no surprise.
I always wanted to read Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, ever since I saw Interview with the Vampire on TV and revelled in the attractiveness of Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt-how have they never teamed up again?- and the creepiness of tiny=vampire Kirsten Dunst. However, I also always feared these books would be disappointing in quality, especially after I broke down and read Twilight two years ago, before the movies came out to prove to everyone how bad the books must be without ever having to crack them open. The other reason I never read them was the constant existence of new and numerous books to read. There are so many books I’ve ‘meant to read’ and never read, simply because my main method of picking books at the library is going to either the Young Adult or Adult fantasy sections and saying, “Hey, this one looks SHINYYYY”.
So, enter my new life as a teacher in a non-English speaking country with limited reading resources. While the Lyceum’s library is considerable for a high school, all the English books are in one small room, making choice limited and easy all at once. And so, looking for someone else for a class one day, the Anne Rice section called out to me, and I picked up Interview with the Vampir and carried it home.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think Anne Rice is crazy. She might even be crazier than Stephenie Meyer, making me wonder if it’s possible to write about vampires and maintain sanity. After all, Rice has actually expressed the belief that she is a vampire, wheras Meyer is a Mormon. What more need I say?
Anyway, I dove into this book and didn’t even stop long enough to realize that I was pleasantly surprised. Louis, played by Brad Pitt in the surprisingly accurate movie, is the vampire that never should have been. He is everything emotional and touching about Angel without any of the creepy bossiness of Edward Cullen. He is balanced well by Lestat, played in the movie by Tom Cruise. Lestat is all the recklessness of Spike without the blatant murderousness of Angelus, though he has some of the same “why the hell not? I’m a vampire!” qualities of Joss Whedon’s best evil vampires. The other characters, Claudia, Armand, and co, are flawed only in that they all sound far too pretty, though that is often an accepted part of vampires.
After devouring Interview, I quickly moved onto The Vampire Lestat, which is equally great. If you aren’t familiar with the film of the first book, the premise is thatin the present day, Louis is interviewed by a college-age boy, and tells him his entire life story. This story will presumably be a book, though we never find out in that book either way.
Here is where Rice does something that could have been incredibly lame, and has been in later emulations, but when she does it, is genius. We find out in Lestat that the story did indeed become a book- and in his universe, it’s ripped apart the vampire world, and now Lestat has decided it’s his turn, and we’re reading his book, about his short-lived career as a rockstar. It gave me a similar feeling to when I was 11 and read Harry Potter for the first time, and even a small part of my over-rational brain wondered if I’d find a letter from Hogwarts in my mailbox. I read this book wondering if I would go to the store and find Lestat’s cds. Almost as much as Buffy does, it made me feel like if I went out at night I really would run into some bad business with some vampires if I went on the wrong street.
I’ve since read the third book, Queen of the Damned (also a movie, though I haven’t seen it), and Tale of the Body Thief. Unfortunately, I have also nearly exhausted my library’s Anne Rice books, except for one other that’s much later in the series. And unfortunately, now when I put off reading her books I’ll know what I’m missing.