Archive for February, 2007
I’m not much of one for horror movies or stories, and the one time I tackled Anne Rice (Interview with a Vampire, probably a decade ago) I had to put it aside fairly quickly. It was just too dark for me right then.
Lately, I’ve been reading some fun, extremely light-hearted little mysteries featuring all kinds of crazy characters, particularly vampires. And you know how it is when you get “into” something – you want more, even if more is not forthcoming. I ran out of books in the series, and while browsing the discount shelves at Barnes & Noble came across a copy of Anne Rice’s Blood Canticle on the cheap. A quick flip through the introduction caught my interest, and the book came home with me.
I’m coming into the saga of Lestat near the end, so I don’t know anything about his backstory beyond what I’ve picked up from movie clips and cultural reference. But the Lestat of Canticle didn’t have the same horrifying feeling that I got from the Lestat of Interview. This was a basically decent creature, a good soul struggling to overcome several lifetimes of accumulated sin. Not once throughout the entire book did I feel horror.
The resulting narrative was fascinating for a number of reasons, the primary one being the complex dance of morality. Are these creatures of the night inherently evil? Do they have souls? If so, can they be saved? Does the fact that they feed on only “bad” people in any way redeem the fact that they hunt humans – and can you truly be condemned for doing what you have to do to survive? Is the road to Hell paved with good intentions, or might there be a detour along the way to Heaven? Lestat’s character development, even seen in this limited scope, was what kept me thoroughly engrossed in this novel.
I was drawn in by the unique voice of our narrator, Lestat, and the way that Rice chose to use that voice. It’s a book that is very much self-conscious of being a book; in fact, it starts out by chastising readers for not better embracing the immediate previous book in the series. Bold? Distasteful? Amazing? Hypnotic? All of these things…? Throughout it all we are continually conscious of the fact that we are reading a book “by” Lestat, written to be sold and read. It’s a very odd and somehow enchanting conceit.
It’s evident, of course, that Anne Rice is working her way through the loss of her husband in this book. From what I understand, after her husband’s death she moved away from her horror fare and started writing much more Christian texts, and this is clearly a part of that transition. The over-arching theme of salvation and sainthood feels like Rice’s argument with herself – can these terrible things that I wrote in the past be redeemed? I created a sinner, an entire world of sinners, and spread darkness into the world – can I turn that around into a vehicle of light?
This book (and presumably the rest of the series) is made especially interesting to me by the fact that it takes place in New Orleans. Having been there makes an enormous difference in my mental painting of the scene, and even helped me visualize the characters more fully. I’m not sure anyone could ever really understand the French Quarter and the odd people who dwell there without having seen it, and I wonder if they will ever see what I saw – what Rice saw – again. I know that particular part of New Orleans wasn’t as heavily affected, but it’s all the same organism…
There’s a little branch-plot in this book that seemed wholly unnecessary to me, but I suppose Rice felt the need to have some sort of goal/quest/climax in there. Pshaw. 🙂
I own Rice’s Violin from another bargain sale, and I may give it a shot sometime soon. I’ve heard that it’s very, very strange – more autobiographical, more uncontrolled, seemingly insane. Some people claim it’s unreadable. I don’t know that I’ll be a fan of the earlier vampire books or not, but I’m intrigued by this seemingly unfettered glance into the mind of a genius writer going through massive life changes.
Overall, Blood Canticle wasn’t a tremendous book, and it’s not the sort of book you’d find on a Top ___ list, but it was a fascinating read. Not for everyone – it’s still a fantasy/horror, and the writing style is definitely unique – but it might be for you.
I turned my sister into a harbinger of doom so she could model what I’m looking for in thisOAL project. It was a lot of fun….
I’ve given this a great deal of thought, and have come to a difficult conclusion:
I don’t want the next Harry Potter book to come out.
Before you scream heresy and fling fruits in various states of decay in my approximate direction, hear me out.
The thing is, so long as HP7 has not yet arrived, we can continue to write the story anyway we like.
Having HP1-6 in our collective mental library, we can dream about the future of these characters. In our minds, Ron and Hermione can get married and live next door to Harry and his bride, Ginny, in a lovely wizardly suburb somewhere in fictional England. Somehow, Sirius can return – accompanied perhaps in his magical resurrection by Dumbledore. Draco can be turned into a toad. Snape can turn out to be a nice guy after all.
Or maybe something else entirely happens in our imagined storyline. Maybe as they reach adulthood, Ron and Harry realize that their brotherly love for one another is actually the beginnings of a romantic relationship. Maybe Hermione miraculously gains untold powers and becomes the next Headmaster of Hogwarts, taking the opportunity to free all house elves and replace them with anyone who ever said the word “mudblood.” Maybe the love of a good woman cures Draco of his nastiness and he and Hermione live happily ever after. Maybe the Weasleys win the lottery. Maybe Voldemort moves to the United States and joins the Bush Administration. Maybe anything.
So long as HP7 does not exist, the story doesn’t have to end. I’ve envisioned it: a few years after releasing the “last book” in the Harry Potter saga, Rowling – provoked by her clamorous fans and a nagging sense that the story is not yet complete – begins writing The Adult Adventures of Harry Potter. She of course has to send cease-and-desist letters to a handful of pornographic film makers, but the law is on her side. In the Adult Adventures, Harry is a grown man, perhaps married (to Ginny? to Hermione? to Cho?), probably not teaching at Hogwarts but rather living the exciting life of a talented former-child-star wizard.
It’s not possible, of course. The Deathly Hallows is coming out this July, and with it rings the death knell of Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. That’s my prediction, anyway. It’s the classic literary cycle. In order for the story to be complete, Voldemort must be destroyed – and Voldemort cannot be destroyed without also destroying Potter. They are yin and yang, two forces in cosmic balance.
Besides, what role could Harry serve in an invisible future universe wherein Ron or Hermione has been killed? Ron and Hermione are heroic, untouchable. They have a future life inherent in their characters. Ron is obviously going to have a family, obviously going to be a good man who combines the strength of his mother and the charm of his father, who tempers the nuttiness of his siblings and makes something of himself despite his modest roots. Hermione will live a long and satisfying life as a professor at Hogwarts, gradually finding a balance between her natural inclination for discipline and order and learning, and her fiery, fun-loving spirit. But there can be no Adult Adventures of Harry Potter, because there is no adult life possible for him.
We’ll see. But I would almost rather leave it to my own imagination. Stories always end happily ever after there.