In my 20s (aka the '90s), I tried to read Interview with the Vampire
but failed miserably. I couldn't stomach Rice's dreamy darkness. Maybe the film tainted things for me. Antonio Banderas, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt as passion-filled vampires? I couldn't stop picturing Louis and Lestat as airbrushed romantic stereotypes. I quit reading at about page 50, and waited 15 years or so to give Rice's work a second try.
I wasn't disappointed! Maybe my memories of the film have faded enough to allow the book to stand on its own. Whatever the case, Interview with the Vampire
had plenty to hold my interest. What struck me most was the near-constant inner turmoil experienced by vampires. They're immortal beings that wither and die due to a sense of loss, aversion to change, crimes of passion, or hatred of their vampire selves. How can your very nature require that you drink blood and kill others to survive, but also allow you consider killing sinful? Poor Louis! Rice appears to be using such conflict within vampire nature to explore the doctrine of Original Sin and how such an idea impacts our bodies, minds, and communities. I loved the constant tension!
I also enjoyed Rice's far-from-idealistic portrayal of life as a vampire. Would living forever really be such a great thing? What about having all experience of the world restricted to the dark hours? I love a good late evening out on the town, but not being able to experience sunrises and the promise of mornings? That would suck! Sure, there's something grotesquely beautiful and mysterious about the lives of Rice's vampires. That doesn't mean I want to become one, however.
Don't pick up Interview with the Vampire
looking for fast action or a joy-filled romp. It's heavy! Rice's characters often move about the world languorously, with the occasional painful yearning for beauty, connection, and hunger for blood. And there's an uncomfortable exploration of repercussions for turning a 5-year-old girl into a vampire. After many years of being a vampire, wouldn't that girl now be a 5 year old in appearance only? Would she crave to become a fully formed woman? Would she long to express herself sexually? (By the way, wasn't Claudia plays by Kirsten Dunst in the film version?) It's far from comfortable to think of a 5-year-old, even if in appearance only, as a sexual being with blood lust. Call me Prudence McPrude, but I found Rice's treatment of Claudia to border on fetishistic. In other words, The Interview with the Vampire
is interesting, but certainly not for everyone.