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Why must I love what I destroy?
Interview with the Vampire - Anne Rice
Member Name: Bryn Pearson
Interview with the Vampire - Anne Rice
Date: 19/09/01, updated on 19/09/01 (166 review reads)
Advantages: sensual, intelligent, startling
Disadvantages: depressing, unsettling.
"Interview with the vampire" inspired not only an excellent film, but also Sting's song "Moon over Bourbon street" and changed the face of vampire fiction. It is a strange blend of horror, angst and guilt - a very Catholic nightmare, and one that was very personal for the author. "Interview" is the first in a long series of vampire chronicals - the others being "The Vampire Lestat" "The Queen of the Damned" "The tale of the body theif" ""Memnoch the devil" "Pandora" "Armand" plus at least one new one, which I have yet to read. These are gothic tales, seductive in their approach to a horror that has always been at least a little erotic.
It was Bram Stoker's "Dracula" novel that first equated blood sharing with sex, and in Rice's work, sex is entirely replaced by feeding - a love that must inevtiably bring death. There is an eroticism to her writing, especially where blood is concerned. (But she did start out writing erotica under a different name...)
A bit about the plot. A young reporter called Daniel is offered an interview with a man who claims to be a vampire. At first daniel is sceptical, but as the evening wears on, he begins to change his mind. The man who talks to him is a vampire called Louis, who had once been a plantation owner. brought down by despaire after the loss of a loved one, Louis has no desire to live, but when a vampire offers him an eternal life of death, he takes this. The vampire is Lestat. There is a strong love hate bond between these two - Louis fears, loathes and adores the vampire who changed him, and in this first novel, you don't get much insight into how Lestat feels about Louis. Their little family is completed when, between them, they make a child Vampire, Claudia. Seeking to escape from Lestat, Claudia and Louis attempt to kill him, flee to the old world, where they meet the paris vampires, and
their grotesque theatre. Armand offers Louis the answers he has long been craving, but Armand is jealous of Claudia, and seems to know something of Lestat. I shall elave the rest for you to find out when you read it, and will only add that i cried copiously over several scenes, and that tis book is much worse once you've read "Armand".
"Interview" is far darker than the other books, which follow the escapades of Lestat. Louis is a troubled soul, filled with angst, guilt and awkward questions. He retains too much of his humanity and does not cope well with the continual feeding. Sting captures Louis well in "Moon over Bourbon street." "Why must it be this way, when I pray to god above, why must I love what I destroy and destroy the thing I love...."
Anne Rice had a young daughter who died of Leukemia, a daughter whose nickname, (Inspired by her husky voice) had been Claudia. This book is an act of mourining, filled with references to Rice's own grief - a subject explored in more detail in "Violin." I did not know this when I first read the text, but the knowledge certainly coloured later readings. It is also worth noting the presence of a strong catholic influence in Rice's work - many of her tales take us into the realms of Catholic faith, and the guilt permeating the book seems to echo this.
About the film - there are some significant differences between the film and the book - some inevitable cuts for the sake of the screen. The rest derive from the fact that Lestat's view is encorporated into the film, whereas in the book, we only really know what Louis thinks.
On a personal note, I was given this book for my seventeenth birthday, with a second book that I was told not to unwrap until I'd read the first. These days, most people approach the books having seen the film and aware of the other titles, but I did not. Nor had I read much horror before then. I w
as catapulted into a dark an erotic world that has since fired my imagination. I efel in love with Louis, then with Lestat, and was later to find that Armand is the vampire who I relate to the best. Durning my teens, the books suited my own dark emotions well, and I used to wander the streets at night imagining things.... Having gone back to the books repeatedly, I begin to find them bleak, troubling, depressing. I love reading them - they are like old friends (even if they didn't make it to my top ten books list.) but there is something about Rice's writing that always leaves me feeling a little bit let down - she tries to answer the questions of life, the universe and everything, and I rather wish she wouldn't because it can't be done, and she ends up exposing more awkward questions.
This isn't easy reading, but it is very good.