Sunday, February 28, 2010
1001 Books Challenge: Interview with the Vampire
This month I choose to read Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire for the 1001 Books Challenge. I've had this book on my shelf for nearly two years, after picking it up at a used book sale. I think I bought it on the heels of the Twilight craze and while I have no desire to read anything by Stephanie Meyer, I felt curious about vampire myth and legends. I do not usually gravitate towards books with supernatural elements and felt some trepidation about Anne Rice's reputation (or rather, perceived reputation) for horror stories. I read Stephen King's The Shining in high school, but only during the daylight hours and to this day refuse to watch the film because Jack Nicholson's crazed face on the cover gives me the creeps. When I read Jay's Journal, one of the "true stories" published by Beatrice Sparks about a young man who becomes involved with a Satanic group, I had to put it in a drawer in my desk because the subject matter disturbed me. I felt like Joey on Friends when he put his copy of Little Women in the freezer because he felt sad that Beth died. To sum up: I was not sure if I would like Interview with the Vampire and wondered if the book would scare me. It didn't and I did.
Rice writes at a languid pace as the vampire Louis details the circumstances that led him to become a vampire and the ensuing events. I was surprised to discover that Rice steers away from the horrifying and into the introspective. Louis becomes a vampire out of self-loathing in his human form, but manages to carry the anxieties of humanity into his eternal life. While the narrative is certainly one sided, Louis appears to struggle with the morality of vampires sustaining on blood and killing others. Louis' angst takes form in his unwillingness to take human lives for many years, sustaining himself on vermin and small animals, whereas his creator and mentor kills humans for pleasure. Yet, Rice's depiction of this is minimal and far from gory. Instead, Rice focuses on Louis' search for knowledge and understanding. Much of the mystery of the novel stems from Louis' desire to learn the origins of vampires and search for meaning in the eternal life. Rice's version of vampires removes the frightening element of their existence by portraying Louis, a self-reflective soul who desires purpose and an understanding of a world order - if one exists.
I enjoyed Interview with the Vampire and while it ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, as it is the first of The Vampire Chronicles, it stands alone. I felt complete with the story, with no compulsion to continue the series. The supernatural world with its cloaks and daggers and mysteries hold my interest little, so I have no need to follow Louis' interviewer deeper into vampire lore. The novel contains exciting passages and events, without becoming scary, which I appreciated (as a long time scardy-cat). Well worth the read!