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BOOK REVIEW - ANNE RICE– INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE –FUTURA BOOKS 1976 

 

A publishing phenomena,  - Rice single handedly revived vampire and Gothic literature from the doldrums with this revisionistic classic.  

 

Gone are the Catholic religious trappings that many authors became fixated on in holding on to the Stoker-Dracula tradition. Holy water, and crucifixes do not affect Rice’s vampires. They are secular, and often even atheistic.  Another myth Rice shatters is the notion that vampires are made by any vampire bite, In Rice’s worlds, a vampire is only made by a mortal drinking the blood of a vampire, not the other way around. 

 

The 'Interview' is that given by the vampire Louis, who was created by feeding on a vampire called Lestat two hundred years ago in the slave plantations of New Orleans (the city where the author lives today).  Louis is not happy. In fact, he is the most downbeat vampire you could hope to meet. Lestat has held him trapped in a claustrophobic homoerotic relationship by convincing Louis that they are the last of their kind on Earth now. Louis begins to suspect that this is a lie and he has spent his vampire life trying to find fellow vampires. Following the folklore trail to Transylvania he finds out that European vampires are little more than mindless zombies, half convinced that the Christian myths about themselves are true.  Louis does however meet a young vampire tragically made into a vampire in her adolescence, and though older, she is trapped forever in the body of a child. Louis likes her a lot and he now knows that Lestat has lied to him.  He breaks away from Lestat again and heads to Paris where he and the girl join a vampire cabaret led by a powerful vampire called Armand. This vampire kills the girl, burning her to death, as an abomination. Louis, reunited with Lestat, burns down the theatre, and flees. 

 

He now gives his interview in lament at his loneliness at being estranged from his creator, having killed off the only other vampires he has met, and having lost the girl who he loved.  Despite the misery that is presented to him however, the reporter thinks that vampirism is really cool, and decides that he would really like to be one. Louis despairs that the man has missed the whole point of the story. 

 

This is a tremendously imaginative work, which was largely ignored for years but gradually became hugely influential. The first of many sequels, The Vampire Lestat, would not appear for about ten years after Interview, without which the modern vampire and gothic revival, including Buffy The Vampire Slayer, would never have come to be. It’s just a shame that so few of Rice’s subsequent works have been much good. http://www.annerice.com/bs_b_InterviewWithAVampire.htm

 

Arthur Chappell

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