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Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles, #1)
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Group Reads > October 2017 - Interview with the Vampire

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Yoly (macaruchi) | 794 comments Don't forget the spoiler tags! :)


message 2: by Gary (last edited Oct 02, 2017 05:58AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary | 1471 comments I'm glad this is happening. Anne Rice is such a presence in fiction that any group dedicated to SF/F by female authors really needs to at least have a passing familiarity with her work.

One thing that I think is particularly notable to start off with this one is that if any book makes sense to listen to rather than read, this is it. We've read a bunch of books that struck me as particularly "visual" or even like they were novelizations of an existing film, meaning they read as if they were meant for (or, at least, could be consumed in) another medium. But the contrivance of the recorded interview as the basis of this book makes it very apt for a book on tape "reading" rather than text alone.

In fact, I first discovered Anne Rice when hanging out with some folks in their dorm room. Somebody put Interview on, and F. Murray Abraham's dulcet growl started up. I think we only listened to about 15-20 minutes of it, but I went out and picked up a hardcopy right away. I still have that copy around here someplace... but I think I'm going to go for an audiobook this time around just to see how that goes.


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Amber Martingale | 659 comments Not participating until I can get a copy.


message 4: by Gary (last edited Oct 13, 2017 11:45AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary | 1471 comments Amber wrote: "Not participating until I can get a copy."

That shouldn't be hard. There were so many printed, they practically could have used copies to line birdcages back in the day....

I did some poking around on that there new fangled Webbernets, and it looks like the audiobook that I heard 15-20 minutes of decades ago with F the Murray of Abraham that motivated me to pick up a hardcopy was an abridged version. I don't really do abridgments these days, so I just dug up my copy.

Still, it does seem uniquely suited to that kind of medium. And even though it was quite a while ago, I have a particular memory of his voice and Rice's prose, so I think I might do a little bit of both this time around.


Gary | 1471 comments BTW, not that we, as discerning and independent-minded readers of science fiction/fantasy should care overmuch, but Twitter agrees with this month's poll:




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Amber Martingale | 659 comments I prefer Dracula, but that was written by a man... .


Gary | 1471 comments Amber wrote: "I prefer Dracula, but that was written by a man... ."

You could give this a shot:

Bram Stoker And The Man Who Was Dracula by Barbara Belford

It's non-fiction, of course, but I liked it.


message 8: by Amber (last edited Oct 05, 2017 12:01PM) (new) - added it

Amber Martingale | 659 comments IF I can find and get a copy before the month is over. And I might wanna wait anyway as I am trying to find a copy of Interview... .


message 9: by Gary (last edited Oct 11, 2017 09:38PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary | 1471 comments I have a literary question about how folks address this book in particular, but also the rest of the series: How reliable are the narrators?

It's been a while since I read this series, but in The Vampire Lestat, and in later books of the series we get a somewhat different presentation of Lestat's character, and one that is much more... if not actually sympathetic, then less unsympathetic, if you will. According to Lestat, Louis is a liar and his characterization of Lestat entirely self-serving, but then according to Claudia (through Louis) Lestat is "the Father of Lies" and cannot be trusted either.

Whenever one runs into a first person narrative in literature, one has to take that narrative with a grain of salt, and that's particularly the case here because that narrative is specifically called into question. I've read a few interviews with Anne Rice (*)

(*) Her given name was "Howard Allen Frances O'Brien" if you can wrap your head around that.... I'm a lit/crit kind of guy, which means I like to do things like call Mark Twain by his given name, Samuel Clemens, and refer to Lewis Carroll as Charles Dodgson or call Orwell, Eric, but in this case I'm going to go with the author's pseudonym just for the sake of shorthand and clarity.

in which she indicates that Lestat is, more or less, her favorite character.
Lestat is my soul, my hero, my inner self, my ideal self. I feel an intensity when writing about him that I get with no other character … almost. Lestat reflects my ups and downs, so I would have to say writing about him as defeated, despairing, miserable — that’s the hardest challenge.
I don't know if that's entirely an endorsement of that character's veracity as a narrator, but it does say something about his emphasis and importance to the author. It could be read to mean that any narrative quirks from Lestat are shared by the author, for example. The series starts out relatively small with the narrator who is described very often as the "most human" of the vampires, for what that's worth. Later the series grows epic, describing the origin of vampires in a way that becomes cosmological. Then it drops back down again into much more earthy as it were.

Louis' characterization of Lestat is of someone who is often petty and immature. He's more imp than master, and his evil is that of a child pulling wings off flies. Later, when Lestat narrates, we get information that his victims were, in fact, (view spoiler). So, he goes back through the list of people that Louis describes him as murdering and explains that they were (view spoiler), and his killing of them justified on that basis. He's doesn't kill out of cruelty as is presented by Louis. Rather, he's Dexter with vampire teeth....

That doesn't very well add up if one runs a few numbers, of course. Lestat is described as killing nightly, and often more than once. In general, vampires are described as having to go through periods when they feed on animals or even not at all for a time, but it's pretty hard to come up with a number for a single vampire who lives 200 years or so that comes out to less than tens of thousands of victims:

1/month = 2,400 victims.
1/week = 10,400 victims.
1/day = 73,000 victims.

That's give or take 50 leap years... but even the least number give us a tally in a few years that surpass even the most "successful" real world serial killers.

It also assumes that the victims are killed outright, which isn't always the case, though death does appear to be the more likely result. Lestat is described as wiping out whole families, and I don't recall that ever being addressed by him as a narrator. (If anyone knows of text that shows I'm wrong on that, please let me know.) Point being, it's pretty hard to accept on it's face Lestat's later assertion that his victims were (view spoiler).

Louis being the "most human" of the vampires in the series is ambiguous. That could be read to mean he maintains the most human set of morals, but it could in the context of reliability mean that his recall and characterization is faulty. We get an awful lot of Louis interacting with humans in Interview with the Vampire alone in a room and I would have to note that even if Louis is the "most human" of vampires, he's not very human at all. At the very least, he has powers and abilities (let alone experiences) that would very much make his perspective different from anything that one could really describe as human. Humanizing him may be the point in this novel, and his narrative might be colored in that sense to make him the hero of his own narrative, but an awful lot of Lestat's behavior carries over into his own narratives, so off the cuff I'm more inclined to believe Louis than Lestat.

Later, characters who show up in Lestat's narrative that are introduced in Louis tend to be characterized in ways that echo the original presentation. Armand, for instance, seems very much as Louis describes him when later described by Lestat. Aside from his insistence that Louis is a liar, I'd suggest that even Louis appears much as he describes himself later when Lestat has his turn, and if anything Louis comes out pretty.

There's also an interesting storytelling device in Interview with the Vampire in that the story is being recorded by "the boy" (later Daniel Molloy.) That is, the story is not an "as told to" account, but "as recorded by." We're still subject to the foibles of the narrator, of course. Louis is still a first person narrator, and therefore has unreliability as an issue, but one needs to factor in certain extraneous elements as symbolic hints as to veracity from the author. Rice need not have had a tape recorder in that room, nor spent as much time having "the boy" stop and change tapes. The whole narrative could have played out on a boat (Frankenstein, Heart of Darkness) from a mental hospital (Lolita) or even as an anonymous set of recordings found in a box (The Handmaid's Tale) for scholars to pour over and debate. Instead, Rice has an element of "reality" on top of the narrative. It's still a narrative, of course, but this *is* what that narrator is saying happened....

Thoughts?


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Amber Martingale | 659 comments Interesting points, but does it really matter how many people Lestat killed in the course of his history as a vampire?


message 11: by Gary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary | 1471 comments Amber wrote: "Interesting points, but does it really matter how many people Lestat killed in the course of his history as a vampire?"

As far as his reliability as a narrator goes, it's only important to his later assertion that his victims are themselves murderers, and carefully chosen on that basis. That's from the early chapters of Book 2, if I recall correctly. If he kills a human somewhere between once a week and once a day then that means he's gone through tens of thousands of people, which seems like an awful lot of murderers.

That aside, I am always intrigued by the biological implications of vampire stories. Louis says a couple of times that vampires kill nightly, but then in the story there are occasions they don't, and on others they kill multiple times. But if it averages out over time that means between Lestat, Louis and Claudia they went through nearly eleven hundred people a year while living in 19th century New Orleans. He does describe them going to some effort to hide bodies and make deaths look like something other than vampire attacks, but that's an awful lot of deaths to cover up, and that kind of thing always makes me wonder if people wouldn't notice.

Anne Rice's vampires are pretty close to pure predators compared to the ones in other novels. Vampires in other novels like the True Blood series are more like parasites. Then there are Octavia Butler's vampires which even have a symbiotic relationship in that their victims get certain biological benefits—in exchange for all that blood and a certain addiction/loss of autonomy. Predator vampires always seem less plausible to me simply because of the body count.


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Amber Martingale | 659 comments In that case, yeah it probably is important.

Am I the only one to have gotten a copy that doesn't seem to have actual chapters?


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Yoly (macaruchi) | 794 comments I have it on Kindle and it has only parts 1 through 4. I think that's the actual structure.

I will start reading it later this week so I can join the conversation.


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Amber Martingale | 659 comments Lack of chapter makes it hard as hell to read small bits of it at a time, especially when you have several other books in progress at the same time, including an annotated copy of Bram Stoker's Dracula... .


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Yoly (macaruchi) | 794 comments Oh I know what you mean. I hate that. :(
I love it when books have short chapters that I can finish in 10 or 15 minutes.


message 16: by Amber (new) - added it

Amber Martingale | 659 comments GMTA, Yoly.


message 17: by Gary (last edited Oct 13, 2017 11:40AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary | 1471 comments I finished the book a couple of days ago... kinda thinking about picking up The Vampire Lestat immediately. I don't know. I like a little rice with my gumbo, but two servings in a row might be a bit much.

Anyway, planning on watching the film adaptation this weekend. Remember all that casting controversy? I still think they got that one backwards. Pitt should have been Lestat and Cruise Louis.

Worse, though, is Kirsten Dunst. They were kind of stuck on that one, of course. Claudia is five in the book, and aside from the difficulty of getting a five-year-old to act like a vampire, the optics are really, really bad. The single shot of ten- or twelve-year-old Dunst macking on Pitt struck me as rather tepid all things considered, but that's just not the kind of thing that goes from prose to film without the transition being a shock. Yes, the character is supposed to be mentally an adult by then, but we know the actor isn't, and even with all the art of Hollywood at their disposal, it's going to emotionally be pretty unpleasant to watch.

A couple of things stood out to me in this reading. The first is that early in the book the vampires interact much more with "mortals" than they do later. That interaction ranges from "playing with their food" as it were to relying on them in emergencies to survive. The longer, relationship-type interaction always works out badly for the mortals, of course, and it more or less drops away once they leave Louisiana, but I didn't remember that from my earlier reading.

The other thing that struck me, and that I remember very differently was that Armand is described as auburn haired. Programmed by the film, maybe, I'd thought of him as darker. I didn't picture him looking like Antonio Banderas particularly, but neither did I think of him as ginger. I thought of him as slight and rather elfin in black and white.


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Amber Martingale | 659 comments They should never have cast Aaliyah as Akasha in Queen of the Damned...that was blackwashing an Indo-European character.

Auburn is a member of the ginger family, Gary, when it's a hair color.

I'm picturing someone more like Ewan McGregor for Louis, someone like John Boyega (don't ask why, please!) for the boy doing the interview (Daniel Molloy) and someone like Ken Marshall as Lestat. Ken Marshall played Prince Colwyn in the early 80s movie Krull.

That said, I am starting to get a bit bleary eyed with it already... .


message 19: by Gary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary | 1471 comments Amber wrote: "They should never have cast Aaliyah as Akasha in Queen of the Damned...that was blackwashing an Indo-European character.
I never saw that one. It's been so long since I read Queen of the Damned that I don't remember the character's origin story. Wasn't she (view spoiler)?

Auburn is a member of the ginger family, Gary, when it's a hair color."

Yeah, that's what I was getting at. I pictured him with black hair, but that's expressly not the case. The rest of the vampires in the theater are actually described as dying their hair black (like goth kids maybe) but Armand keeps his hair "natural" as it were.


message 20: by Amber (new) - added it

Amber Martingale | 659 comments No, Gary. Akasha was from Uruk which is now a city in Iraq. Mesopotamia, as it was then known, was part of the original homeland of the Indo-Europeans who were the linguistic and physical ancestors of almost all non-African peoples. Most Indo-Europeans had less melanin in their skin than Africans did, but more than modern Europeans and Asians.

http://vampirechronicles.wikia.com/wi... has some information about her, but she isn't really in this book. She's not really introduced until the second book when Lestat talks about her.

That said, I gave up reading this one. I got tired of getting bleary eyed due to the font itself and the lack of chapter markers.

I'll just have to wing it, based on what I remember of both the last time I read it and what I remember of the awful movie.


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Yoly (macaruchi) | 794 comments These past couple of weeks my reading time has been severely impacted and I've only been able to read for about 20 before I go to bed each night. I don't know if this is the reason why I haven't been able to get *into* this book. I'm about 20% in, and while things have happened in the story, it feels like nothing has happened!

I switched to the audio version, which has helped a lot, because I can listen to the book while doing other things (+1 for audiobooks), plus the narrator does a very decent job (I'm listening to the unabridged version by Simon Vance).

I hope I haven't been able to get into the story because I've only been reading/listening in small chunks because I really want to like this book. Vampires have always fascinated me, I think they are my favorite horror creatures :) I wonder though, if maybe the book is showing its age? I looked it up and the novel was published in 1976, yikes, the book is basically my age. After all the books that we've read and movies and TV shows we have watched, maybe the book it just feels dated and that's why I feel it's a bit too slow? Those of you who have read it, what do you think?


message 22: by Gary (last edited Oct 23, 2017 09:12AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary | 1471 comments I watched about 20 minutes of the film adaptation and that is DEFINITELY showing its age. Rereading the book didn't strike me that way, but I read it when it first came out (or thereabouts), so my intellectual/emotive association may be overcoming any such assessment.

So much of what Rice did with her version of vampires in 1976 is de rigueur now that I can't help but think it tracks as a kind of by-the-numbers version of such characters these days. However, in context, I think probably the closest reference to how the mainstream treated vampires as characters when it was published would be something like Salem's Lot (1975) by King in which the vampires were much more horrific and... well, Dracula-like. It wasn't about the psychology of the monster (*)

(*) all fantasy/sf/horror monsters are stand-ins for humans, but that's another issue.

so much as it was about the terror of humans discovering they were not at the top of the food chain. Vampires had a particular portrayal within that interaction, but it was mostly as a "boss" and his "minions" in the video game sense. We'd get a glimpse of their character and motivations, but authors didn't delve into their psychology the way Rice did.

Nowadays that exploration tracks as a little trite, I guess. It's like reading a novelization of The Real Housewives of Transylvania or watching the "confession booth" monologues of the vampire version of Survivor. UnSurvivor, if you will. However, even if that's the case it read as very fresh back in the day. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Rice is probably one of the most praised authors of the 20th-21st centuries.


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Amber Martingale | 659 comments Yoly wrote: "These past couple of weeks my reading time has been severely impacted and I've only been able to read for about 20 before I go to bed each night. I don't know if this is the reason why I haven't be..."

I'm two years younger than the book and I know I'm dated because you know you're getting old when even Def Leppard is considered "classic rock"!


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Yoly (macaruchi) | 794 comments Gary wrote: "I watched about 20 minutes of the film adaptation and that is DEFINITELY showing its age. Rereading the book didn't strike me that way, but I read it when it first came out (or thereabouts), so my ..."

I'm reading Interview with the Vampire the same way I read Neuromancer. I think I read it 5 or 6 years ago, and that book felt definitely dated, plus I wouldn't describe William Gibson's style in that book as something pleasant. I struggled with it, but in the end I am glad I read it.

...And I would watch a show titled UnSurvivor :)

I know we had Bram Stoker's Dracula, and Carmilla and I think there's even one older than Dracula called Vampyr or something? But after that, were vampires "a thing?" at some point or was Anne Rice the one who made vampires "a thing" again? You did mention Salem's Lot a year before Interview, but I don't remember seeing anything vampire related dated before those (besides Christopher Lee's gazillion vampire movies).


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Yoly (macaruchi) | 794 comments Amber wrote: "I'm two years younger than the book and I know I'm dated because you know you're getting old when even Def Leppard is considered "classic rock"! "

Ugh I know what you mean :(
And when you hear people calling Bon Jovi "dad's old music"

But we're not old, we're... classic ;)


message 26: by Gary (last edited Oct 24, 2017 10:20AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gary | 1471 comments Yoly wrote: "I know we had Bram Stoker's Dracula, and Carmilla and I think there's even one older than Dracula called Vampyr or something? But after that, were vampires "a thing?" at some point or was Anne Rice the one who made vampires "a thing" again? You did mention Salem's Lot a year before Interview, but I don't remember seeing anything vampire related dated before those (besides Christopher Lee's gazillion vampire movies)."

Are you thinking of Nosferatu maybe? Vampires were way more dead than un- back then. Nowadays they sparkle. Makes me vomit a little bit in the back of my mouth....

My theory is that the focus within a major genre tends to cycle in a way that compares to fashion, which is why I never throw out old books or jean jackets. That cycling does seem to happen more quickly these days, but it tends to go from ghosts to witches to alien invaders to zombies to giant monsters to "end of the world" (plague, nukes, meteors...) stories, etc. The order is rather tough to lock down, but if one can guess the "next big thing" then I suspect a writer could get very, very rich....

I'd guess vampires came back in a big way in the early 70s with Hammer Horror films, and King's Salem's Lot was an attempt to capitalize on that. (Vampire stories aren't really his bag if one goes through is oeuvre....) I'd say Rice represents the pinnacle of that wave; when the stories are "mainstream" and almost ubiquitous. Then there's a kind of weird transition where you go from horror to sub-themes to cash in on the hype. So, the innovation and revitalization of a story like Frankenstein (1931) builds up to Bride of Frankenstein (1935) but then we get Son of Frankenstein (1939) and mashups that, weirdly, start to be all feel-good like Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) then House of Frankenstein (1944) until finally the monster plays for laughs and we get Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

So, when it comes to vampires as a horror theme there's probably been four maybe five really big periods when they were at the height of fashion. Around the times of Stoker's novel (1897) then the film adaptation (1931) then the schlock films/Anne Rice of the 70s-80s and then the recent spate of "my boyfriend is a vampire" books, movies and TV shows. There's maybe an earlier period or two around Carmilla but that's outside my wheelhouse.


message 27: by Amber (last edited Oct 24, 2017 10:26AM) (new) - added it

Amber Martingale | 659 comments Yoly wrote: "Gary wrote: "I watched about 20 minutes of the film adaptation and that is DEFINITELY showing its age. Rereading the book didn't strike me that way, but I read it when it first came out (or thereab..."

I think you meant Polidori's Varney the Vampyre. And I actually blame The Twatlight Saga for vampires being a "thing," but in the words of a friend of mine "The Cullens are NOT vampires. They're emo sparkly blood fairies!"

Amen Yoly. Re: "We're not old, we're classic."

Gary, Nosferatu was a movie from the 1920's and it pissed off Stoker's widow enough that she sued the German filmmakers for plagiarism.

Although he doesn't mention THAT, Leonard Nimoy, as host of In Search Of..., does do a nice job in an episode about Dracula. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emwwe...


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Yoly (macaruchi) | 794 comments Amber wrote: "I think you meant Polidori's Varney the Vampyre."

Yeah, I think that's the one
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Vam...

Gary, I agree with the cycling of themes. I think around the time of the Brahm Stoker' Dracula (1992) movie we got a new vampire cycle, at least in film. We got Interview with the Vampie a couple of years after that one (1994), and of course, there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer the movie almost everyone hated, but for some reason I loved, and of course got obsessed with the TV show later on.

I found this list http://www.imdb.com/list/ls052565463/ and it seems most of them were made in the 90s

So I continued listening to the book, I'm like 5 hours away from finishing it and while I stil think the narration is kind of slow for my taste, some interesting things are happening, like (view spoiler). I can imagine this probably being kind of a big deal when the book first came out (maybe? or maybe not?) but after all the things we've seen and read about in 2017 it doesn't seem like a big deal to me.

I will keep listening because I'm finally at a point where I'm curious about what happens next in the story.


message 29: by Amber (last edited Nov 02, 2017 11:13AM) (new) - added it

Amber Martingale | 659 comments Yep...that was the one I meant.

Well, TOHO tried to make a movie called The Blood Lust of Dracula, but with a title like that it made me think of a hentai because that's the same company that gave us Gojira and a damned good song about him by Blue Öyster Cult: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyT6Y...


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