“Interview with the Vampire” by Anne Rice

Interview with the Vampire is…well it’s gay. Like, really gay. Riding a rainbow-colored unicorn through a screening of Twilight while listening to Ricky Martin gay.

Just to make something clear, this isn’t a derogatory statement; it’s just there is a severe homosexual subtext throughout this text. Though subtext may not be the correct term to use, as it is so blatantly clear…

The plot:
A young man sits in a darkened room, waiting to interview the pale figure standing before him. His eyes are the only part of his body imbued with life, for he is a vampire, the damned undead. Throughout the text, Louis will explain his origins, and his anti-life story. He will reminisce over the relationship with the vampire Lestat, who made him the way he is, and with Claudia, whom they adopt in a vicious fashion. Overall, he will convey to the boy, and to the reader, the crippling loneliness and despair that is an integral part of being a vampire.

Before I recount anything else about Interview, what must be commented on is how unusually dark it is. And I wish to stress that, when I say unusually, I don’t mean it is particularly dark. Rather, it is dark in an unusual and unorthodox sense. This is the story about Louis’ struggle with coping with the fact that he is an immortal and destined to live forever. Rice’s writing style is well suited to conveying such a tale as it is hurried, confused, and fascinated to begin with. As the novel progresses however, it becomes simply passionate in its language, coinciding with Louis’ appreciation of his new-found perception of life, which is integrated with periods of frustration. Finally, it becomes very plain, yet descriptive, marking an acceptance on Louis’ part.

The actual events of the novel, however, are horrific in nature. In the hands of, say, Stephen King, this would be an all out horror novel, reveling in the gore and traumatic happenings of the text. Rice, however, shows a great deal of restraint with her blood drenched narrative, describing events in a calm and serene manner.

Some of these monstrous scenes are delivered in a lack luster fashion as a result, but others stand out, due to the deadpan fashion in which they presented to the reader. In one scene, Louis watches as Lestat drains the blood from two 19th century prostitutes, killing the first before the other in a way in which she does not suspect. What is interesting here is how little emphasis Rice puts on the horror of death or blood, but rather on Louis’ contempt for the murderer and the self-reflection which his actions cause Louis to undergo.

This self-reflection, in which Louis ponders so much regarding his existence, is the focus of the novel. Frankly, while interesting in theory, and an admirable undertaking, is often frustrating to read. Louis is in fact an incredibly boring character on which to focus, and characters such as Lestat and Claudia feel far more refreshing to read about. Again, it is clear what Rice is trying to do, in portraying this sense of perpetual solitude, as it would surely be the central aspect to a vampires’ existence. However, this does not change the fact that it is the least interesting aspect of a vampire’s life, and hardly enthralling material.

Luckily, the text is intercut with enough bizarre events to cause intrigue. I found Claudia’s character to be the most fascinating, as she deals with very serious issues of sexuality, being an immortal trapped forever in the body of a young child. She often has outbursts of anger and passionate moments. One encounter she has with Louis, in discussing the act of sexual intercourse, is brilliantly unsettling.

Of course, as mentioned earlier, there is a layer of homosexual subtext. This is lightly touched upon in the most famous of vampire texts, Dracula, but is far more apparent here. Louis and Lestat, both male, are the only vampires depicted in the novel for some time, and at one point share a coffin. Much later, Louis encounters the vampire Armand whom he confesses being enamored with. They are at times depicted as inferior, other times superior, but always very different from the norm.

Overall:

Rice does some interesting work with the vampire canon. The fact that she focuses on the everlasting lifespan of the vampire is damaging to the novels’ allure, but nonetheless gives it a very distinctive ambience, both dark and moody. The more exciting events may be intercut too sparsely for some people’s liking. However, it is still an achievement how well Rice manages to encompass such an extensive series of events while maintaining a believable persona in her protagonist. Unlike a lot of vampire fiction, it is in this sense of self, and not in the singular action packed events of the vampire lifestyle, where she is successful.

Awful Rating: 7/10

This is the very spirit of your age. Don’t you see that? Everyone else feels as you feel. Your fall from grace and faith has been the fall of a century.” – Armand

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • My dissertation in college dealt a great deal with vampire children and their difficulties with sexuality. Naturally Interview played a major part in it. Had I had the patience, I probably would have benefited from reading the book instead of watching a young Kirsten Dunst portray Claudia in the film. She’s not really frustrated with her sexuality, because she gets her top wet in Spider-man and she’s clearly loving it.
  • It’s a little off-putting when you’re reading a novel about death, vampire and blood when you’re sitting in your back garden, wearing shorts and having a tall frosty beer. Some might say it ruins the mood somewhat.
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. well i totally love homosexual stories , i think it is because i read too much yaoi ( a Japanese term used for homosexual stories), i watched the move when i was 7 and then when i was 11 and i adore it. i haven’t read the book , but now that i read you review i will and then i will come back to comment a bit more. i personally think that this book was meant for women that is why you did not liked it, but then again you might be one.


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