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Literary Glance: Interview with the Vampire

October 23, 2017

When I was in college, a girlfriend broke up with me because of Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice.  This girlfriend had a lot of great qualities, but she was a bit tyrannical over the books I read.  She always strongly suggested books like The Mists of Avalon and The Handmaid’s Tale, and she flipped out when I was reading a Stephen King book.

She finally broke up with me when I told her that Interview with the Vampire sucked.  Looking back, I don’t think I meant it.  I mean, I was tired and cranky at the time, and I wanted to read my own books, so I told her that Interview with the Vampire sucked, and I gave her a Mack Bolan book and a football magazine (with a hot chick in a bikini on the cover) as my suggested reading.  I admit, my humor needed refining, and she broke up with me.

The thing is, I don’t remember if Interview with the Vampire really sucked or not.  I’ve been wanting to read it again without the bias I once had, and now is a good time.  My wife doesn’t care what I think of Interview with the Vampire, so it’s probably safe for me to review now.

After a chapter or so, I can say that the book itself is a lot easier to read than I thought it would be.  Anne Rice can get kind of wordy sometimes.  I’ve stopped reading a couple of her more recent books (”recent” as in the last 20 years), and there seem to be lots of long paragraphs with sentences that took a lot of words to not say much.  Or maybe that was my original bias.

Here’s a section that I MIGHT have thought sucked back in the 1980s, a section where the vampire was discussing his transition:

“My last sunrise,” said the vampire.  “That morning, I was not yet a vampire.  And I saw my last sunrise.

I remember it completely; yet I do not think I remember any other sunrise before it.  I remember the light came first to the tops of the French windows, a paling behind the lace curtains, and then a gleam growing brighter in patches among the leaves of the trees.  Finally the sun came through the windows themselves and the lace lay in shadows on the stone floor, and all over the form of my sister, who was still sleeping, shadows of lace on the shawl over her shoulders and head.  As soon as she was warm, she pushed the shawl away without awakening, and then the sun shone full on her eyes and she tightened her eyelids.  Then it was on the table where she rested her head on her arms, and gleaming, blazing, in the water in the pitcher.  And I could feel it in my hands on the counterpane and then on my face.  I lay in the bed thinking about all the things the vampire had told me, and then it was that I said good-bye to the sunrise and went out to become a vampire.  It was… the last sunrise.”

I don’t remember what approach I used to criticize the novel back in the 1980s.  If I were to criticize it today, I’d point out that the author used the word gleam twice in one paragraph and that an editor should have asked for a synonym.  I was taught to avoid repeating the same desriptive word, even if it was vampire dialogue.  I don’t know.  I think using the same kind of word like gleam/gleaming twice in one paragraph is fair criticism, but it’s not enough to say that the book sucks.

Interview with the Vampire is okay, I guess.  I don’t like admitting it.  The writing isn’t tedious.  The story is interesting enough.  As far as I know, it was original for its time.  I probably shouldn’t have told my ex-girlfriend that it sucks.

5 Comments
  1. It’s funny the things youngsters think are breakup worthy.

  2. Bite your tongue! …lol… we like what we like. And I happen to love Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, especially Interview with the Vampire…wordiness (I like to say lushness) and all.

  3. Writing, whether wordy or not, is about sooo much more than nitpicking. It must be about a story being conveyed, not absolute technival perfection.

  4. Ha, ha. I disliked it myself when I read it back then. The movie is much better – and less wordy.

  5. You still were right to break up with that girlfriend. I’m sure your wife can back me on this. 🙂

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