Interview with the Vampire
by Anne Rice
I read this for my school’s book club this month, but I’ve read it before, when I was a wee, nutty lass who would read anything if there were remotely queer boys in it–so, of course, I missed the entire point of the novel. Yeesh.
While it’s not Rice’s most exciting work (Louis is too ponderous a narrator for that), it is one of her purest books in the series–Louis’ struggles with his vampiric nature are philosophical and spiritual, an increasingly isolated figure against the richly imagined world of Rice’s horrifying vampires.
As the title suggests, a young reporter in San Francisco interviews a vampire–Louis de Point de Lac. After the death of his religious brother, a guilt-ridden Louis roams New Orleans, inviting death… and death comes as the arrogant, petulant, and fascinating Lestat, a materialistic vampire who wants Louis’ property.
Lestat’s failings as a vampiric mentor give us Louis, the tormented vampire, whose main struggle is trying to reconcile his sense of self with his new, murderous, and immensely powerful form. This somber mediation on existence tinges the whole work with a melancholic tone.
This struggle is the bulk of the novel, as Louis encounters horrors after horrors during his travels, from the coven of vampires in Paris to unholy revenants in Eastern Europe. But the most horrific, of course, is the child vampire, Claudia.
I forgot exactly how chilling Claudia is, as I always remembered her slightly older than five years old. I don’t think any child has startled me so much since a little girl in Dune started talking about Big Important Matters, and Herbert pointed out her lisp from her soft palette. Ye gods! The scene were Lestat turns her is gruesome–Claudia, just a child, not understanding, and Louis unable to stop Lestat. But even more terrifying than any of the kills (and they are described, in great detail) is the fact that Claudia is trapped inside the body of a five year old child while her mind grows into that of a young woman. She grows into a bitter, sharp, and powerful woman, hating her vampire fathers for turning her so young.
The main vampires (Louis, Lestat, and Claudia) are particularly well realized–while some of Lestat’s characterization and his last scene have been dismissed in later Vampire Chronicles, I prefer him here to the rock star we meet later. His last scene is too poignant and repulsive for me to throw out the window.
Louis, as I’ve said, is a ponderous narrator, with the nature of his struggle giving him an excuse. While the story is interesting, the prose can sometime lag, and be awkward–parts of Louis’ mortal life and new vampire life are oddly put (Babette’s last scene seemed awkward), and kills are elaborated upon in great detail. However, the writing is gorgeous without getting in its own way.
Bottom line: It’s dark, horrifying, and remarkably sensuous, although it occasionally sinks under the weight of its own heavy musings and can lag in some areas.
I rented this book from my school library.