Halfway through reading this one, it occurred to me that I read Interview with a Vampire in high school, but it left so little impression that I promptly forgot about it until 16 or so years later when, as I was reading it again, I began to recall some of it as I went along. This is a cerebral treatment of the vampire genre, an examination of good vs evil, what immortality really means, the first of its kind in “vampire books” and an allegory of the soul itself. It is all of those things, but it’s not very fun to read. The pace drags along and, for being a horror novel, it’s not horrific, mainly dull.
Now, as back in high school, I wanted more information about what happened to Louis’s brother at the very start. Rice hints at paranormal interference on the stairs and in the brother’s religious vision, but the truth is never revealed. Maybe I have to dig through subsequent novels to find out what happened. That is the start of Louis’ troubles, the lynch pin of the whole book and Rice just glosses over it.
I also was unimpressed by Louis’s self professed “sensitivity” to life. It all combined to make him into an unending complainer. “People who cease to believe in God or goodness altogether still believe in the devil. I don’t know why. No, I do indeed know why. Evil is always possible. And goodness is eternally difficult.” pg 14, ebook. He monologues like that a lot as the book is set up as an interview, which I didn’t mind too much, but I could have done without for the last third. I mean, at that point, we know the kid with the tape recorder is there. I wanted to get lost in the story but we’re never really allowed to because we’re always flashing back and forth.
It’s difficult to enjoy a book when you don’t really like the main character.“I lived like a man who wanted to die but who had no courage to do it himself. I walked black streets and alleys alone; I passed out in cabarets. … And then I was attacked. It might have been anyone- and my invitation was open to sailors, thieves, maniacs, anyone. But it was a vampire.” pg 13, ebook. Interview with the Maniac just doesn’t have the same ring, does it. And yet, I might read it. 🙂
Rice’s vampires are emotionless, except for Louis who is seemingly exploding with sensitivity and angst: “By morning, I realized that I was his complete superior and I had been sadly cheated in having him for a teacher. … I felt cold towards him. I had no contempt in superiority. Only a hunger for new experience … Lestat was of no use.” pg 29, ebook. Or later with Claudia: “I even conceived a savage jealousy of the dollmaker to whom she’d confided her request for that tinkling diminutive lady, because that dollmaker had for a moment given her something which she held close to herself in my presence as if I were not there at all.” pg 176, ebook. On and on it goes. Lestat doesn’t understand him. Lestat’s a boor. Lestat this, Lestat that. Claudia’s out of control. Claudia too much like Lestat, Claudia’s too much like him…. Louis has eternity to explore the world and everything in it, and he chooses to hang out with the two people who makes him nuts. But, I hear you say, Lestat created him so he had control over him and he couldn’t leave Claudia because she was like an eternal child, wasn’t she? As the story unfolds, we discover that separation was possible. Louis was simply too “sensitive” to do what was necessary.
Anyway, between the whining, the incomplete background information, and black/white view of good and evil, I did not enjoy Interview with the Vampire nearly as much as I had hoped I would. Perhaps I will revise my view if I read the rest of the series, but just thinking about digging into it makes me feel tired so I’m not sure that I’ll ever get that. Maybe I was ruined on this book by reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels, which I surprisingly loved (until the painfully awful final ones, skip those). Jump into Charlaine Harris’ novels for some vampire brain candy, save Anne Rice for the more serious, contemplative mood as it is considered a classic and beloved by many- just not me.
I plan to watch the film now and do a comparative review with the book. I watched it a long time ago too and can’t really recall it at all, but my Goodreads friends seem to think that it was better than the novel. We’ll see. 🙂 Thanks for reading!