Saturday, July 14, 2012

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

When Twilight hit the scene a few years back, the youth of our country plunged head-long into weeks of reading about Bella and Edward (and Jacob) and their super-natural, angst plagued love story. I did, too. While I admit I don't always love the style of Ms. Meyer's writing, I believe she did write well for a YA audience and captivated an entire generation of young readers. If they are reading, I am happy (except Manga and Japaname - that is NOT A BOOK! and I hate that our library even keeps them in there with real literature, but I digress).

However, when I mentioned to the youth that a previous author wrote a much more captivating and scarier version of vampires, they were baffled and I was stunned. Had they never even heard of Anne Rice and The Vampire Chronicles? Turns out - no they hadn't. This book was published in 1976, the year I was born, long before this generation of vampire crazed teens was even a twinkle in their pre-pubescent parent's eyes.

I remember watching this quite intense and macabre portrayal of vampirism on the big screen in 1994 staring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas, Christian Slater, and Kirsten Dunst - a very all-star cast. I was a senior in high school and while not prone to reading back then, I did know it was based on the book series by Anne Rice. So, as the Twilight phenomenon took place, I decided it was time to head back to my teen years of vampire stories and read Interview with the Vampire. I was not disappointed.

The story, set in South as most vampire stories seem to be, follows the life of Louis de Point du Lac and his transformation from average plantation owner to vampire with a guilty conscience. He is guided into his new life by Lestat de Lioncourt, a blood-sucking and vicious fang-bearer that has little regard for human life. Much of the tension in the novel is based on the differences in opinion between Louis and Lestat of how to feed and on what to feed. There are times when Louis is keeping himself alive via rats and rodents (a concept I think Ms. Meyers borrowed for her "vegetarian" vampires with a conscience). And we learn all of this through a tense and graphic interview with a very young journalist, the said "interviewer" of Louis in a small room with very little light. Louis talks a lot.

Louis tells his story in grave detail starting with his first moments as a vampire, in which Lestat assumes he is doing Louis a favor by changing him as Louis is going mad over the death of his brother. There is graphic tension, blood, and gore littered throughout the pages and in truth, it is a scary tale. Because Louis can't cope with his new life and continues to find a love for humans, Lestat, once again comes to his "rescue" by providing him with a vampire child - Claudia. She is one of the most intriguing and beguiling characters in the book. Trapped in the body of a child for eternity, but with the mind of a grown woman; and Louis loves her in a paternal and protective way. Their relationship is endearing and nurturing, and tragic.

They travel and attempt to be better than the average savage beasts they are, but in the end - we all are what we are and we see Louis's rage explode.

The novel reads at a brisk pace and while it's quite long, it's intense throughout. The stories Louis tells send shivers down your spine and makes you often consider the notion of real vampires, lurking in dark shadows somewhere, not sparkling when the sun comes out. I would recommend this book series to anyone that wants to delve into the life of a real vampire, with all it's torture and somewhat, triumph over human frailty. Anne Rice is still Queen of the vampires - that title could never be replaced.

My only regret? I saw the movie long before I read the book and I think that tainted the intensity for me because I knew what was going to happen in general. The book is far better than the film, but in all honesty, the movie version is still one of my favorite vampire stories. I just keep seeing Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in my mind while I was reading and that took away from the horror of my own imagination. I've vowed to not make this mistake again - always read the book first! And then, by all means see the movie :-)

Happy reading!

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