Rice, Anne 1941–
Rice, Anne 1941–
(Anne Rampling, A.N. Roquelaure)
PERSONAL: Born Howard Allen O'Brien, October 4, 1941, in New Orleans, LA; name changed, c. 1947; daughter of Howard (a postal worker, novelist, and sculptor) and Katherine (Allen) O'Brien; married Stan Rice (a poet and painter), October 14, 1961 (died, December, 2002); children: Michele (deceased), Christopher. Education: Attended Texas Woman's University, 1959–60; San Francisco State College (now University), B.A., 1964, M.A., 1971; graduate study at University of California at Berkeley, 1969–70. Hobbies and other interests: Traveling, ancient Greek history, archaeology, social history since the beginning of recorded time, old movies on television, attending boxing matches.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Jacklyn Nesbit Associates, 598 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022.
CAREER: Writer. worked variously as a waitress, cook, theater usherette, and insurance claims examiner. Appeared on television series Ellen, 1996.
MEMBER: Authors Guild, Authors League of America.
AWARDS, HONORS: Joseph Henry Jackson Award honorable mention, 1970.
The Feast of All Saints, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1980.
Cry to Heaven, Knopf (New York, NY), 1982.
The Mummy: or, Ramses the Damned, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1989.
Servant of the Bones, Knopf (New York, NY), 1996.
Violin, Knopf (New York, NY), 1997.
Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, Knopf (New York, NY), 2005.
"VAMPIRE CHRONICLES" SERIES
Interview with the Vampire (also see below), Knopf (New York, NY), 1976.
The Vampire Lestat (also see below), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1985.
The Queen of the Damned (also see below), Knopf (New York, NY), 1988.
Vampire Chronicles (contains Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, and The Queen of the Damned), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1989.
The Tale of the Body Thief, Knopf (New York, NY), 1992.
Memnoch the Devil, Knopf (New York, NY), 1995.
The Vampire Armand, Knopf (New York, NY), 1998.
Pandora: New Tales of the Vampires, Random House (New York, NY), 1998.
Vittorio the Vampire, Knopf (New York, NY), 1999.
Merrick, Knopf (New York, NY), 2000.
Blood and Gold, Knopf (New York, NY), 2001.
Blackwood Farm, Knopf (New York, NY), 2002.
Blood Canticle, Knopf (New York, NY), 2003.
"WITCHING HOUR" TRILOGY
The Witching Hour, Knopf (New York, NY), 1990.
Lasher, Knopf (New York, NY), 1993.
Taltos, Knopf (New York, NY), 1994.
EROTIC NOVELS; UNDER PSEUDONYM A.N. ROQUELAURE
The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Dutton (New York, NY), 1983.
Beauty's Punishment, Dutton (New York, NY), 1984.
Beauty's Release: The Continued Erotic Adventures of Sleeping Beauty, Dutton (New York, NY), 1985.
The Sleeping Beauty Novels (contains The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty's Punishment, and Beauty's Release: The Continued Erotic Adventures of Sleeping Beauty), New American Library (New York, NY), 1991.
NOVELS; UNDER PSEUDONYM ANNE RAMPLING
Exit to Eden, Arbor House (New York, NY), 1985.
Belinda, Arbor House (New York, NY), 1986.
Interview with the Vampire (screenplay; adapted from the novel of the same title), Geffen Pictures, 1994.
(Author of introduction) Alice Borchardt, Devoted, Dutton (New York, NY), 1995.
(Author of foreword) Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, and Other Stories, Schocken (New York, NY), 1995.
(Author of introduction) Kelly Klein, Underworld, Knopf (New York, NY), 1995.
(Author of introduction) Alice Borchardt, Beguiled, Dutton (New York, NY), 1997.
The Anne Rice Reader, edited by Katherine Ramsland, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1997.
ADAPTATIONS: Exit to Eden was adapted for film by Deborah Amelon and Bob Brunner, directed by Garry Marshall, starring Dana Delaney and Dan Ackroyd, 1994; and Queen of the Damned was adapted for film by Scott Abbott and Michael Petroni, directed by Michael Rymer, starring Stuart Townsend, 2001. The Vampire Lestat was adapted as a graphic novel by Faye Perozich, Ballantine, 1991; and The Tale of the Body Thief was adapted as a graphic novel. Feast of All Saints was adapted as a television miniseries, Showtime/ABC, 2001. Elton John and Bernie Taupin adapted Rice's "Vampire Chronicles" novels as the stage musical The Vampire Lestat, to be produced on Broadway, 2005. Rice's novels have been adapted as audiobooks.
SIDELIGHTS: Considered one of the leading practitioners of Gothic writing in the twentieth century, popular novelist Anne Rice has built her career, according to New York Times Book Review critic Daniel Mendelsohn, by sticking to "the Big Themes: good versus evil, mortality and immortality." Indeed, these themes have provided Rice with such prolific material that, as Bob Summer observed in Publishers Weekly, "She needs two pseudonyms—Anne Rampling and A.N. Roquelaure—to distinguish the disparate voices in her books, [which have] won both critical acclaim and a readership of cult proportions." Under her own name, Rice crafts novels about the bizarre and the supernatural; under the Rampling pseudonym, she writes contemporary and mainstream fiction; and under the Roquelaure nom de plume she spins sadomasochistic fantasies. Rice has pointed out that each name represents a part of her divided self. As she told New York Times interviewer Stewart Kellerman, she is "a divided person with different voices, like an actor playing different roles." Discussing this subject with Sarah Booth Conroy in a Washington Post interview, Rice said, "I think sometimes that if I had had perhaps a few more genes, or whatever, I would have been truly mad, a multiple personality whose selves didn't recognize each other."
Rice has characterized her early childhood as happy but unconventional. However, at the age of fourteen Rice lost her mother to alcoholism, and soon afterwards the family relocated to Texas. She married her high school sweetheart, poet Stan Rice, at age twenty; "I fell completely in love with Stan, and I'm still completely in love with him," declared Rice in a New York Times interview; tragically, after over four decades of marriage, Rice died of cancer in 2002. A year after they were married the Rices moved from Texas to San Francisco, where Rice gave birth to daughter Michele. It was there that she had a prophetic dream: "I dreamed my daughter, Michele, was dying—that there was something wrong with her blood," she recalled in her People interview. Several months later, Michele was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia and died shortly before her sixth birthday. "Two years later, her image was reincarnated as the child vampire Claudia in [Interview with the Vampire], Anne's first published work," wrote Gerri Hirshey in Rolling Stone. Interview with the Vampire "was written out of grief, the author says, in five weeks of 'white-hot, access-the-subconscious' sessions between 10:00 p.m. and dawn," added Hirshey.
As its title indicates, Interview with the Vampire recounts the events of one evening in which Louis, the vampire of the title, tells a young reporter his life story. The novel, which Rice actually began in the late 1960s as a short story, developed into something much larger. "I got to the point where the vampire began describing his brother's death, and the whole thing just exploded! Suddenly, in the guise of Louis, a fantasy figure, I was able to touch the reality that was mine," explained Rice in a Publishers Weekly interview. "Through Louis' eyes, everything became accessible."
It is Rice's unusual and sympathetic treatment of vampires, according to critics, that gives her "Vampire Chronicles" their particular appeal. "Rice brings a fresh and powerful imagination to the staples of vampire lore; she makes well-worn coffins and crucifixes tell new tales that compose a chillingly original myth," observed Nina Auerbach in New York Times Book Review. "Because Rice identifies with the vampire instead of the victim (reversing the usual focus), the horror for the reader springs from the realization of the monster within the self," wrote Ferraro. "Moreover, Rice's vampires are loquacious philosophers who spend much of eternity debating the nature of good and evil. Trapped in immortality, they suffer human regret. They are lonely, prisoners of circumstance, compulsive sinners, full of self-loathing and doubt." All that separates the vampires from humans and makes them outsiders is their hunt for human blood and their indestructible bodies. With flawless, alabaster skin, colorful glinting eyes, and hair that shimmers and seems to take on a life of its own, they were described by H.J. Kirchhoff in a Toronto Globe and Mail review as "romantic figures, super-humanly strong and fast, brilliant and subtle of thought and flamboyant of manner."
The status of vampire as outsider, Mendelsohn argued, allows Rice to explore deep human themes like the meaning of suffering and death from the unique viewpoint of "alien characters in … exotic milieus" who nevertheless exhibit an "underlying troubled humanity." Interview with the Vampire, wrote Mendelsohn, is a success precisely because its main character is aestheti-cally refined and sensitive, "a nice Byronic departure from your garden-variety Nosferatu with his unkempt nails and bad table manners."
Walter Kendrick praised the scope of Interview with the Vampire in Voice Literary Supplement, writing that "it would have been a notable tour de force even if its characters had been human." Kendrick also suggested, however, that "Rice's most effective accomplishment … was to link up sex and fear again." Several critics made much the same point. Conroy maintained that "not since Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Louisa May Alcott's penny dreadful novelettes has a woman written so strongly about death and sex." Similarly, in a New York Times Book Review article, Leo Braudy observed that "Rice exploits all the sexual elements in [vampire myths] with a firm self-consciousness of their meaning." The sensuous description of Louis's first kill is an example: "I knelt beside the bent, struggling man and, clamping both my hands on his shoulders, I went into his neck. My teeth had only just begun to change, and I had to tear his flesh, not puncture it; but once the wound was made, the blood flowed…. The sucking mesmerized me, the warm struggling of the man was soothing to the tension of my hands; and there came the beating of the drum again, which was the drumbeat of his heart."
Rice frankly acknowledges her novel's erotic content. "No matter what I write," she told Lambda Book Report writer Melinda L. Shelton, "my characters always turn out to be bisexual. It just happens, and I'm very happy with it—I think it's what I see as an ideal." Noting that The Tale of the Body, which centers on a homoerotic relationship between Lestat and David Talbot, topped bestseller lists for weeks, Rice observed, "when you talk about desire, and you talk about liberation, you're basically talking about universal things."
Despite the critical and popular success of Interview with the Vampire, Rice did not immediately produce a sequel, instead turning her attention to writing mainstream fiction and erotica. When The Vampire Lestat appeared nearly ten years later, both fans and critics welcomed Rice's return to her vampire characters. In this second novel of the "Vampire Chronicles," Lestat, creator of Louis in Interview with the Vampire, awakens from a sleep of many years to find himself in the 1980s. A rock band practicing in a house nearby rouses him, and a few days later, he is dressed in leather and roaring around on a big black Harley Davidson motorcycle.
The Vampire Lestat is structured as an autobiography written as part of the marketing campaign to launch Lestat's new rock and roll career. It takes the reader through "a history of vampirism, from its beginnings in ancient Egypt, through its manifestations in Roman Gaul, Renaissance Italy, pre-Revolutionary Paris and belle epoque New Orleans, and a further discussion of the philosophical, ethical and theological implications of vampirism," wrote Kirchhoff, adding that "Rice is a beautiful writer. Her prose glitters and every character in Lestat's dark odyssey is unique." Although New York Times contributor Michiko Kakutani maintained that Rice recounts her history "in lugubrious, cliche-ridden sentences that repeat every idea and sentiment a couple or more times," Auerbach found The Vampire Lestat to be "ornate and pungently witty," and deemed that "in the classic tradition of Gothic fiction, it teases and tantalizes us into accepting its kaleidoscopic world. Even when they annoy us or tell us more than we want to know, its undead characters are utterly alive."
The Queen of the Damned, which also contains background details about vampire history and lore, drew more muted critical response. Kendrick found the novel "verbose, sluggish, and boring," and written as if "Rice didn't believe her fantasies anymore." However, Kakutani appreciated its "well-developed sense of fun," and Laurence Coven, in a Los Angeles Times Book Review article, deemed the book "an exhilarating blend of philosophic questing and pure, wondrous adventure."
The Tale of the Body Thief continues the "Vampire Chronicles," and find Lestat so weary of his immortality that he attempts suicide. He fails, but is soon approached by a mortal who offers to exchange bodies for a few days. Eager for even a taste of mortality, Lestat agrees, only to have his partner in this transaction vanish with his immortal body. Sarah Smith, in Washington Post Book World, lauded the book's "whiplash speed," "page-turner plot," "beautifully realized atmosphere," and "real storytelling intelligence." The passages in which Lestat, confined to the night for two centuries, once again experiences daylight are "Rice at her best, looking through the outsider's eyes with all the outsider's alienated power," Smith added. Writing in Chicago Tribune, Dan Greenberg termed Rice's description of the body exchange "brilliant," and went on to say that "Lestat's reactions to pulling on a mortal body like a suit of ill-fitting clothes and suddenly having to re-learn vulgar, unvampirelike bodily functions—urinating, eating, defecating, making love—are downright dazzling."
In 1995's Memnoch the Devil Lestat, accustomed to being the hunter, finds he is now the prey, his pursuer none other than Satan, who tries to enlist Lestat to become his assistant. Lestat refuses, but accepts the Dev-il's offer for a tour of heaven, hell, and purgatory. After seeing all this, his guide tells him that he will have another chance to accept the job offer. "With the stage thus set, the book transmogrifies into a modern Paradise Lost, The Universe according to Rice," explained Kevin Allman in a review of Memnoch the Devil for Washington Post Book World. "Many, many pages … are devoted to her personal cosmology and angelology," Allman added, "to her versions of creation, evolution and the Crucifixion. It's a tour that's interesting at times and poky at others."
Several reviewers complained that Memnoch the Devil contains too much talk, and that Rice perhaps took on more than she could handle with this novel. A Publishers Weekly reviewer found that Rice's attempts to answer meaning-of-life questions overshadows her narrative, and felt that "God and the Devil … too often end up sounding like arguing philosophy majors." For Michael McLeod in Chicago Tribune, Memnoch the Devil proves a disappointing conclusion to the "Vampire Chronicles." He noted that while the book deals with the mysteries of life, death, and eternity more "dramatically and directly" than any other installment in Rice's series, "the proportions of the author's writing are so epic that her dark hero gets lost among them." "If Rice really is retiring her flagship vampire," McLeod added, "it's puzzling she made him play out his last scene as Satan's sidekick." Allman concluded with a more positive assessment of Memnoch the Devil, stating that "Rice has penned an ambitious close to this long-running series, as well as a classy exit for a classic horror character."
The Vampire Armand, the sixth installment in her "Vampire Chronicles," returns to a character first introduced in Interview with the Vampire. Armand, a boy in sixteenth-century Italy, is kidnapped and sold as a slave, ending up in the Venetian palace of Marius, a vampire who teaches the boy history and art. Once Marius makes Armand into a vampire, the pair concentrate on hunting down "evil" people, which draws the anger of a Satanic vampire cult intent on making Armand its own. Though some reviewers suggested that The Vampire Armand is less powerful than the earlier books in the series, others welcomed the novel warmly. Michael Porter, in New York Times Book Review, found it an "absorbing account of another all-too-human ghoul" who is struggling to be a Christian, while a contributor to Publishers Weekly praised the novel's "exquisite details of erotic romps and political intrigues" as well as its "lavishly poetic" treatment of Armand's religious crisis.
The "Vampire Chronicles" continue with Merrick, a biracial female vampire who has voodoo powers. The action moves from New Orleans to the Central American rainforest, and Rice reunites readers with Lestat and several other characters from past novels. More so than other novels in the series, Merrick features strong female characters. "As time passes, I am writing more and more with women characters," Rice noted to Julia Kamysz Lane in Book. "It's becoming easier to write about my femininity. But anytime I write a book with a strong woman protagonist, I run a risk because people simply treat women protagonists differently than men. They tend to insult and trivialize female characters in fiction…. If Interview with the Vampire had been about a male and a female, and Louis had really been a woman, people would have dismissed it out of hand as a cheap romance."
Merrick drew a mixed response from critics. Janet Maslin in New York Times Book Review suggested that Rice's powers "have served her mightily, so mightily that the stories now grow weary," but acknowledged that carelessly written passages or recycled plot elements would not bother Rice's legion of fans at all. Library Journal reviewer Ann Kim commented that Merrick "lacks the resonance and vivid passion of [Rice's] earlier writings," and Booklist reviewer Ray Olson expressed a similar opinion. A contributor to Publishers Weekly, however, found that Rice's "imaginative talents for atmosphere and suspense" enhance the novel with "riveting" detail.
Although the "Vampire Chronicles" earned increasingly lackluster reviews from critics, the series retained its fan following, and Rice continued to produce further installments. In Blood and Gold she profiles Marius, the creature who gave Lestat immortality and also loved the vampire Pandora, herself the subject of another installment in the series. Called "intriguing yet rushed" by a Publishers Weekly contributor, Blood and Gold follows Marius from his birth in imperial Rome and his transformation into a vampire at the hands of Druids. Readers follow Marius through the millennium, as he acts as the protector of Those Who Must Be Kept. Blood Canticle once again finds Lestat center stage, as narrator of his reaction to meeting the devil and his search for redemption. In Publishers Weekly a reviewer noted that in Blood Canticle, "Writing as if her blood-inked quill were afire, Rice seems truly possessed by her Brat Prince of darkness as she races through the story," and added that Blood Canticle might well serve as a closing novel of the series.
The erotic overtones featured in the "Vampire Chronicles" are given full range in books Rice has published under the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure. The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty's Punishment, and Beauty's Release: The Continued Erotic Adventures of Sleeping Beauty are loosely based on the story of Sleeping Beauty and are described as sadomasochistic pornography by some critics. "A.N. Roquelaure is an S&M pornographer with a shocking penchant for leather collars … and other kinky bijoux," stated Hirshey. Conroy asserted, however, that "despite the content, all is presented with something of the breathless, innocent, gingham-ruffled voice of fairy tales." Rice addresses the critical assessment of these works as pornographic in a People interview: "I wrote about the fantasy that interested me personally and that I couldn't find in bookstores. I wanted to create a Disneyland of S&M. Most porno is written by hacks. I meant it to be erotic and nothing else—to turn people on. Sex is good. Nothing about sex is evil or to be ashamed of." Moreover, in a Lear's interview, Rice maintained, "They're of high quality … and I'm very proud that I wrote them."
Writing under the pseudonym Anne Rampling, Rice has written two conventional novels, Exit to Eden and Belinda, which combine erotica and romance. Carolyn See contended in Los Angeles Times that "Rampling attempts a fascinating middle ground" between the "straight erotica" of Roquelaure, and the "semi-serious literature" of Rice. Exit to Eden tells the story of Lisa Kelly, a gorgeous young woman in skimpy lace and high leather boots who exudes sexuality. Raised by an Irish-Catholic family that abhors the idea of sex, Kelly discovers at an early age that she is obsessed by sadomasochism. This obsession, combined with her executive skills, leads her to an island on the Caribbean where she opens the Club—a resort "which is something between a luxury hotel and an S-M brothel," said See. The second half of the novel relates Kelly's exit with friend Elliott from a lifestyle they once perceived as Edenic. They settle in New Orleans and start dating, proving that "one man and one woman can make a happy life together and be transformed by love, the most seductive fantasy of all," wrote See, adding that Rice "makes a lovely case here. Let's take what we've learned of sex and bring it back into the real world, she suggests. It's time, isn't it?"
Belinda is divided into three parts, the first describing the life of Jeremy Walker, a famous author and illustrator of children's books, who lives alone in an old house. Not only is he desperately lonely, but he is also cut off from his sexuality until Belinda comes along. She is a fifteen-year-old runaway who smokes, drinks, and is willing to partake in every erotic fantasy Jeremy concocts. Although Belinda urges him not to search for clues to her past, he does, so she runs away. The second part of the novel describes Belinda's childhood and her relationship with her mother. The final part of the book follows Jeremy's search for Belinda and includes several happy endings—"True love triumphs," claimed See in her Los Angeles Times review of Belinda. "Sex is as nice as champagne and friendship, Rampling earnestly instructs us. Value it! Don't be puritanical morons all your life."
Rice uses her large antebellum mansion in New Orleans as the setting for her "Witching Hour" trilogy opener, The Witching Hour. The mansion in the novel belongs to the Mayfair family and its generations of witches. Rowan, the thirteenth witch, has extrasensory powers and must defend herself from Lasher, the personification of evil. Leading Ferraro through a tour of her home, Rice described the scenes that took place in each of the rooms: "'There's the fireplace where Rowan and Lasher sat on Christmas morning,' she says matter-of-factly, a smile tugging at her lips…. Up a flight of stairs, to Rice's office, where she ignores the messy desk and points dramatically to an ornate bed—'where Deirdre died,' she says, of another of the book's characters."
"What is unnerving about all this is not that Rice switches back and forth between her fictional and factual worlds, but that they seem to coexist, with equal intensity. It is as if she has somehow brought about the haunting of her own house," wrote Ferraro. Patrick McGrath, indicated in New York Times Book Review that "despite its tireless narrative energy, despite its relentless inventiveness, the book is bloated, grown to elephantine proportions because more is included than is needed." But Susan Isaacs, in a Washington Post Book World review, opined that "Rice offers more than just a story; she creates myth. In The Witching Hour, she presents a rich, complicated universe that operates by both natural and supernatural law, and she does so with … consummate skill."
The "Witching Hour" trilogy also includes the novels Lasher and Taltos; Rice would later meld the series with her popular "Vampire Chronicles" in the novels Merrick, Blackwood Farm and Blood Canticle. In Lasher the title character, whose presence in spirit was key to The Witching Hour, assumes human form as the son of Rowan Mayfair and seeks a woman with whom he can reproduce. Taltos centers on a kindly immortal giant named Ashlar who becomes involved with the Mayfair clan.
Numerous reviewers of both books viewed that the large cast of characters and baroque plotlines are weaknesses, and found the series as a whole to be less compelling than the "Vampire Chronicles." "You might … need a scorecard to keep all the Mayfair witches separate," wrote Dick Adler in his Chicago Tribune Books review of Lasher. While Paul West, critiquing Lasher for New York Times Book Review, wrote that Rice narrates her story "in plodding prose, but she does tell it as if it interested her," Elizabeth Hand in Washington Post Book World found much to praise in Rice's "Witching Hour" series. With Lasher, Hand explained, Rice "concocts a heady and potent salmagundi of contemporary witchcraft, Caribbean voodoo, aristocratic decadence and good old-fashioned Celtic paganism, and makes what should be an unpalatable mess as wickedly irresistible as a Halloween stash of Baby Ruths." Even though its characters are supernatural, Lasher is actually "an old-fashioned family saga," Hand added. "Rice's Mayfairs are as gorgeous and doomed and steeped in the South as Scarlett O'Hara."
During the early 1980s Rice published two historical novels that Conroy considered "of great depth, research and enchantment." In The Feast of All Saints she writes about free people of color, those mulattoes who numbered about 18,000 and lived in nineteenth-century Louisiana. The novel centers around the Ferronaire family, focusing on golden-colored Marcel and his sister Marie, who could pass for white. Living in the midst of the antebellum South, they are never really a part of it, and the novel examines this discrimination and the choices each character must make because of it. Penelope Mesic, in a Chicago Tribune Book World review, considered The Feast of All Saints "an honest book, a gifted book, the substantial execution of a known design," and Los Angeles Times Book Review contributor Valerie Miner suggested that "this new book is rare, combining a 'real story,' a profound theme and exquisite literary grace."
Cry to Heaven, another historical novel, enters the world of the Italian castrati, famous male sopranos who were castrated as boys so their voices would remain high. Tonio Treschi, the hero, is a Venetian heir whose brother has him abducted, castrated, and exiled from his home. The rest of the novel relates the pursuit of the goals that obsess him—to become one of the best singers in Europe, and to take his revenge on his brother. Alice Hoffman described Cry to Heaven in New York Times Book Review as "bold and erotic, laced with luxury, sexual tension, [and] music," and added that "here passion is all, desires are overwhelming, gender is blurred." Hoffman concluded that Cry to Heaven "is a novel dazzling in its darkness, and there are times when Rice seems like nothing less than a magician: It is a pure and uncanny talent that can give a voice to monsters and angels both."
Rice returned to historical fiction with Servant of the Bones, which Mendelsohn dubbed a "supernatural melodrama," and Violin, a gothic romance involving a Stradivarius violin. As in Memnoch the Devil, Rice packs much information and philosophizing into Servant of the Bones. The book centers on the dark angel Azriel, whose history stretches back to ancient Babylon and later brings him into contact with two powerful teachers during the Middle Ages. After sleeping for six centuries, Azriel awakens in the late twentieth century to become embroiled in a plot to stop billionaire Gregory Bilkin from destroying the Third World with a powerful virus. Mendelsohn, admitting that the novel attempts to say interesting things about complex themes, complained that "Rice's reach has seriously exceeded her grasp." The critic argued that, in contrast to her approach in earlier books, Rice presents metaphysical conflicts too literally here; the reviewer missed the richness of atmosphere and detail, the "writing" that he believed made her earlier books so notable. Though similar criticism greeted Violin, which New York Times Book Review contributor Bill Hayes found "tedious," Rice's popularity remained as high as ever—especially when she turned her attention once again to the subject of vampires.
Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt is a historical novel that is religious in nature. Similar in a sense to Memnoch the Devil, Christ the Lord is based on biblical events. The latter, however, is much less apocryphal (or fantastical) and tells of the seven-year-old Jesus, his daily life, and his struggle to come to terms with his strange abilities in the face of his ignorance as to who he truly is. The plot, then, revolves around Jesus' eventual discovery of his divine origins. The story takes place roughly 2,000 years ago and reviewers praised Rice's historical accuracy. According to various critics, her portrayal of daily life in first-century Judaea is detailed and well researched. Reviewers also spoke highly of Rice's handling of the story of Jesus' childhood. The novel is "both a work of devotion and a work of fiction," commented Lev Grossman in Time. Grossman also stated that Rice's "intensely literal, historical, reverent treatment" is "written in simple, sedate language." Indeed, critics seemed to agree that the book's minimalist language is integral to its success. A Publisher's Weekly contributor noted the "the riches of the sparse prose Rice adopts," and Library Journal critic Tamara Butler concluded that "Rice's superb storytelling skills enable her to succeed where many other writers have failed."
Rice's "Vampire Chronicles" series created a legion of devoted fans who snapped up each new book and thronged The Anne Rice Collection, the author's New Orleans retail shop that sold everything from clothing and fragrances to dolls based on her fictional characters. Citing her admiration for another bestselling author, Charles Dickens, Rice explained to Lane: "I've discovered that, over time, it is not an insult to be called a popular writer. It's a wonderful compliment, really. If people only read my books for entertainment, if they only read them to take their minds off their troubles, that's fine." While Rice's popularity has showed no sign of waning, following the death of her husband in 2002 the author announced that she was done with vampires. As she explained in Book, even before her husband passed away "I had made the decision that I wanted to move away from the witches and vampires altogether. I wanted to write something completely different. I no longer really wanted to write about people who were damned or who were condemned … and I think [Blood Canticle] is about that—being the end of the road, the last of the chronicles."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Badley, Linda, Writing Horror and the Body: The Fiction of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Anne Rice, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1996.
Beahm, George, editor, The Unauthorized Anne Rice Companion, Andrews and McMeel (New York, NY), 1996.
Charlton, James, editor, Fighting Words: Writers Lam-bast Other Writers—From Aristotle to Anne Rice, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 1994.
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 41, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1987.
Dickinson, Joy, Haunted City: An Unauthorized Guide to the Magical, Magnificent New Orleans of Anne Rice, Carol Publishing Group (Secaucus, NJ), 1995.
Hoppenstand, Gary, and Ray B. Browne, editors, The Gothic World of Anne Rice, Bowling Green Popular Press, 1996.
Marcus, Jana, In the Shadow of the Vampire: Reflections from the World of Anne Rice, Thunder's Mouth Press (New York, NY), 1997.
Ramsland, Katherine M., Prism of the Night: A Biography of Anne Rice, Dutton (New York, NY), 1991.
Ramsland, Katherine M., The Vampire Companion: The Official Guide to Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1993.
Ramsland, Katherine M., The Witches' Companion: The Official Guide to Anne Rice's Lives of the Mayfair Witches, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1994.
Ramsland, Katherine M., The Anne Rice Trivia Book, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1994.
Ramsland, Katherine M., The Roquelaure Reader: A Companion to Anne Rice's Erotica, Plume (New York, NY), 1996.
Ramsland, Katherine M., editor, The Anne Rice Reader: Writers Explore the Universe of Anne Rice, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1997.
Rice, Anne, Interview with the Vampire, Knopf (New York, NY), 1976.
Riley, Michael, Conversations with Anne Rice, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1996.
Roberts, Bette B., Anne Rice, Twayne (New York, NY), 1994.
Smith, Jennifer, Anne Rice: A Critical Companion, Greenwood Press (New York, NY), 1996.
Atlanta Constitution, November 11, 1994, p. P5; July 31, 1995, p. B1.
Atlanta Journal and Constitution, October 4, 1992, p. N8; January 27, 1993, p. A3; June 27, 1993, p. A3; October 3, 1993, p. N10.
Book, September, 2000, p. 32; November-December, 2002, Chris Barsanti, review of Blackwood Farm, p. 84; November-December, 2003, Steve Wilson, review of Blood Canticle, p. 76, and interview, p. 13.
Booklist, May 15, 1996, p. 1547; July, 2000, p. 1975; August, 2001, Kristine Huntley, review of Blood and Gold, p. 2051; August, 2002, Kristine Huntley, review of Blackwood Farm, p. 1887; September 1, 2003, Kristine Huntley, review of Blood Canticle, p. 7.
Boston Globe, September 30, 1994, p. 64.
Chicago Tribune, October 15, 1993, section 1, p. 22; October 26, 1993, section 5, pp. 1, 2; March 5, 1995, section 12, p. 1; August 31, 1995, section 5, p. 2.
Chicago Tribune Book World, January 27, 1980; February 10, 1980.
Christian Science Monitor, November 14, 1994, p. 13.
Entertainment Weekly, March 19, 1999, p. 98; October 31, 2003, Alynda Wheat, review of Blood Canticle, p. 77.
Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), March 15, 1986; November 5, 1988.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1990; August 1, 2003, review of Blood Canticle, p. 989.
Lambda Book Report, October, 2000, Melinda L. Shelton, interview with Rice, p. 6.
Lear's, October, 1989, interview with Rice.
Library Journal, September 1, 1999, p. 254; September I, 2000, p. 252; October 1, 2001, Patricia Altner, review of Blood and Gold, p. 143; September 1, 2003, Patricia Altner, review of Blood Canticle, p. 210; October 15, 2003, Kristen L. Smith, review of Blackwood Farm, p. 113; November 1, 2005, Tamara Butler, review of Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, p. 70.
Locus, September, 1992, pp. 17, 19; October, 1993, p. 25.
Los Angeles Times, August 18, 1988; August 15, 1993; September 21, 1994, p. F1; November 28, 1994, p. B7.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, February 3, 1980; December 19, 1982; July 1, 1985; October 27, 1986; November 6, 1988; October 25, 1992, pp. 1, 9; August 15, 1993, p. 10; October 31, 1993, p. 3.
MacLean's, November 16, 1992, p. 68.
National Review, September 3, 1976.
New Republic, May 8, 1976, pp. 29-30.
Newsweek, November 5, 1990.
New York Times, September 8, 1982; September 9, 1982, p. C25; October 19, 1985, p. 16; October 15, 1988; November 7, 1988; October 28, 1993, pp. C15, C20; November 11, 1994, p. A51.
New York Times Book Review, March 2, 1976; May 2, 1976, pp. 7, 14; February 17, 1980, p. 17; October 10, 1980; October 10, 1982, p. 14; October 27, 1985, p. 15; November 27, 1988; June 11, 1989; November 4, 1990; October 24, 1993, p. 38; December 4, 1994, p. 82; July 23, 1995, p.14; August II, 1996; October 19, 1997; April 19, 1998; December 20. 1998; March 28, 1999, p. 18; October 26, 2000
New York Times Magazine, October 14, 1990.
People, December 5, 1988; November 16, 1998, p. 47; January 11, 1999, p. 113; April 5, 1999, p. 51; December 22, 2003, p. 101.
Publishers Weekly, October 28, 1988; February 10, 1989; November 3, 1989; June 5, 1995, p. 51; August 24, 1998, p. 45; October 26, 1998, p. 19; January 11, 1999, p. 53; August 13, 2000, p. 324; October 2, 2000, p. 45; September 24, 2001, review of Blood and Gold, p. 74; September 2, 2002, review of Blackwood Farm, p. 52; October 6, 2003, review of Blood Canticle, p. 66; October 10, 2005, review of Christ the Lord, p. 38.
Rolling Stone, November 20, 1986; July 13, 1995, p. 92.
Saturday Review, February 2, 1980, p. 37.
Spectator, December 3, 1994, pp. 56-57.
Success, October 2000, p. 96.
Time, September 9, 1989; October 31, 2005, Lev Grossman, review of Christ the Lord, p. 86.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), October 27, 1988; May 28, 1989; November 11, 1990; October 18, 1992, p. 3; October 17, 1993, p. 3; October 9, 1994, p. 5.
Variety, August 21, 2000, p. 33.
Voice Literary Supplement, June, 1982; November, 1987; November, 1988.
Wall Street Journal, June 17, 1976, p. 14.
Washington Post, November 6, 1988; October 30, 1992, p. B1.
Washington Post Book World, January 27, 1980, p. 6; October 3, 1982, pp. 7, 9; December 1, 1985, pp. 1, 7; October 26, 1986; November 6, 1988; June 18, 1989; February 11, 1990; October 28, 1990; October 30, 1992, p. 1; October 4, 1993, pp. 4-5; October 10, 1993, p. 4; October 9, 1994, p. 4; January 15, 1995, p. 4; August 6, 1995, p. 2.
Official Anne Rice Home Page, http://www.annerice.com/ (April 23, 2004).