If you want to know how much the internet has changed things, simply consider that until last week—when I looked this novel up on Wikipedia, while re-reading it for the first time in two decades—I had no idea that Claudia was in part inspired by Rice’s own daughter, Michele, who died of leukemia at age 6.
There were certainly avenues through which that information was available, but they were fewer and much more dispersed. It was an interesting moment of contrast.
As for the book….
The text is a little more florid than I remember, but not so much that I got annoyed at a textual level—there were passages that I certainly skimmed through, but there’s no John Galt radio addresses or anything. Being a first-person narrative, there is a certain tell-don’t-show quality that can get tiresome, but I also don’t know how else it could have been written—it is ultimately a monologue of someone’s experience.
When I last read it, I was in my early 20s. At the time, I remember it mostly as scene setting for the much more dynamic books that followed it. This time…Louis is certainly more interesting. The question of our place in the universe is that consumes him resonates more for me. His initial desire to use his immortality to try and be a more perfect mortal—the way he is entranced with the natural world around him—is, in a way, more surprising, because now I feel I can understand it better.
So I probably found it of more value than the last time I read it, but ultimately, it’s kind of unsatisfying. It’s not that it lacks substance or potential, but it’s like a fine steak awash in too much of some sort of hideous cream sauce that succeeds in hiding, rather than enhancing, its flavor. It has a wonky sense of time’s passage, and while its relative floridity didn’t clang and annoy, it does mean that probably 10% of the words in the book could be left out while simultaneously enhancing the quality of the text.
I guess in the end, the single most damning statement I can probably make is that despite my slightly OCD tendencies when it comes to book series—if I start at one end, I generally find myself making it to the other—I don’t have any intention to pick up The Vampire Lestat or anything else for that matter. I don’t feel any excitement, just a sense that it would eventually turn into a slog.
Of course, now I have to figure out WTF to read…