Questions for Anne Rice
Well it's happened. I have to write a serious article for once. No more joking about Microsoft's latest debacle or the occupation of Iraq. No, now it hits home. Because I just read "Blackwood Farm". Good god, how the mighty have fallen. I used to practically worship Anne Rice's literary skills. When I needed inspiration I turned to her first and then Tolkien. But now it seems that that is over. And so I must ask, what went wrong? What the hell has happened? I was too desensitized and anti-establishment to care that a plane blew up that five sided building where people have planned genocide for fifty years. I wasn't too angered when Bush stole his office. I protested both wars but I wasn't really worked up. I mourned for the new star wars movies and the two matrix sequels but now I have to stand up and make my voice heard. If you liked "The Queen of the Damned" better as a book than a movie then you're going to understand my feelings.
So who am I to criticize the greatest story teller of our decade? Firstly I'm a novelist, albeit unpublished. Secondly I've read almost all of her books. They were all excellent. Who else could put Lucifer into one of their stories as a main character and not only get away with it but leave the book very attractive? Well maybe John Milton but he's dead now. So as a writer I'm more apt to notice Rice's slip towards the dark side because I've been tempted by it as well. Now before I start tearing apart "Blackwood Farm" and "Blood Canticle" let me make my homage to her. I have to give it to Rice because she wrote through her husband's death and persevered. The only problem is she shouldn't have. It's like being a really devoted worker. So devoted that you come to work while in severe pain. So devoted that you come to work while in severe pain while under the influence of a gallon of morphine. So devoted that you come to work while in severe pain while under the influence of a gallon of morphine and smash someone with a wrecking ball. If you don't feel up to writing just don't do it, take my advice. Here's why.
Have you ever been sexually harassed by the ghost of your dead evil twin? If you had been would you go and tell someone about it? Yes? Get away from me you sick freak. The rest of you read on. This is just one odd thing in "Blackwood Farm" This was an enjoyable book right up until about the halfway mark. Here's the plot more or less.
Quinn: I sure would love to get rid of this ghost that looks exactly like me, even though I'm a vampire
Goblin: No master cannot get rid of us would kill us keeell usss\
Quinn: Screw this I'm going to go find the vampire Lestat
Quinn: Want to come back to my place?
Lestat: Why not -zoop-
Quinn: So yeah, I have this ghost. Oh and this is my sweet old Aunt queen, the most endearing person you'll ever meet, think about the oracle from "the matrix" times ten.
Aunt Queen: Hello my boy how are you, oh I see you have a friend, would you two like some cookies?
Lestat: No thank you miss we're vampires
Aunt Queen: Ah you're so funny, you don't need to call me miss though, from now on I'm your aunt Queen.
Patsy: Ugh I'm a crackwhore kill me
Quinn: Fuck you mom I will later
Lestat: So why dont you tell me about your life in great detail.
Quinn: I was a baby, I had a ghost named Goblin, he hung out with me ever since, my mom is a detestable crack whore who is going to die soon, I had a sexual encounter with goblin, everyone thought I was nuts, I had a sexual encounter with another ghost, I went to an island, some girl got tortured to death for no reason, I went to the island some more and it turned out it was a vampire, she was a hermaphrodite, she made me a vampire, my great grandfather is a vampire too, goblin's being a butthole. Oh yeah and for no good reason I loved one of the Mayfair witches. I also had cocoa with her dead uncle.
Lestat: Cool I'll fix the goblin problem.
So far so good. Not a great book but still quite interesting. The little mystery over who killed his great aunt or whatever was terrible as it didnt really say why the vampire tortured her to death or why his great grandfather type person didnt stop it. There are cool moments, like the time Quinn has tea with Oncle Julien Mayfair and then finds out he's a ghost. Then there are things that are insane. His girlfriend is a nympho who will die if she has sex. Yeah that is apparently possible. Also there are more Mayfairs in New Orleans then there are normal people and vampires combined. Rice uses the name Mayfair to be attached to anything and everything in this book, it's a wonder they didnt take over Quinn's farm and force the book to be called Mayfair Farm.
And as if the nympho of self destruction isn't bad enough every conceivable person gets knocked up or screwed for no reason. Quinn has sex with his nanny and sires a child. He has sex with a ghost but cant quite sire a child with her. Quinn's grandfather sires a child with a woman half his age. Mind you this is right after his beloved wife dies. What the hell. If you read about Quinn's grandfather the idea that he would have sex with a thirty year old baker makes no sense at all. Nor does the idea that he would then do almost nothing to support the child. Oh and Quinn's mom gets knocked up at least one time during the book as well. And of course there's the inexplicable infinite wealth of Blackwood Farm's inhabitants. Every single person there is a millionaire by the end of the book except little miss crack whore. Have you ever watched a mob movie and known someone was going to get whacked. Yeah that's the situation with her. That has never happened in ANY of Rice's previous books. She often caught me by surprise actually.
However the final and most unforgivable sin she commits is cold blooded murder. People drop like flies in this book. Some of them werent so bad because you never got to know them. Quinn's grandmother, grandfather, twin brother, his grandfather's mistress' boyfriend, his teacher, his old friend lady, I'm probably leaving out a few but worst of all is Aunt Queen and Merrick. Let me give you the background on these two. Aunt Queen spends the entire book making us love her like our granny. She makes food, offers treats, dispenses hugs and kisses and sage wisdom, she takes people all over the globe, tries to act as young as possible despite being about half as old as master Yoda, Even Lestat loves the hell out of her. So what happens? Goblin trips her in the end of the book, she bangs her head and dies.
Next there's Merrick. Her death is equally cruel but I think this is the worst because it makes no dod gamn sense. She is the main character in the preceding novel, Merrick. She spent the entire novel sidling up to Lestat and Louis. Finally she channels Claudia's ghost to relieve Louis' guilt and he decides he loves her. She becomes a vampire and then reveals that even though she loves Lestat and Louis she planned the whole thing with Claudia so she could become a vampire. Hey that's cool, a witch outsmarting the two greatest vampires of all time. She says she did it because she felt weak walking down the streets at night, as she was a woman. She wanted to transcend her gender and leave behind fear and a whole lot of other themes Rice seemed to enjoy toying with in her better days. So basically the moral is this. Merrick wanted to become a vampire for years and now she is one. So she comes into the book at the end and robs the body of Quinn's evil twin from a cemetery. Our heroine. Next she builds a huge bonfire since we all know vampires love those. Then she makes goblin go into his dead body and jumps into the flames, killing herself... I was speechless at this point. Did she forget that fire kills vampires? Did she decide she dosnt like being a vampire and just never bother to demonstrate that? Did she want to throw Goblin in but tripped?
And then there's one last death to go. Quinn kills his own mother because she pisses him off. Arghable. Even writers for Saturday night live or a network sitcom or the film "Battlefield Earth" must realize that you can only kill so many people before it stops having any effect on the reader/viewer or on the plot in general. Just because I forget where I'm going on the freeway and get bored dosnt mean I start flinging fellow motorists into bonfires. I don't know what the heck happened but last I remembered Anne Rice did not murder her characters just to get out of a rut. And by the deathtoll in this book she must have been in a lot of ruts. Oh yes and let me mention one thing. Evil twins. She could have made it work and to an extent it was different and believable but it was DEFINATELY not a surprise. The whole book I knew Goblin was his evil twin ghost just as I knew that Patsy the crackwhore was going to die horribly.
So what's in store for us in "Blood Canticle"? I shudder to think. I have not read this novel nor do I intend to. My best guess is that at the end Lestat is laying atop a pile of bodies. Maharet and Mekare decide to kill themselves and all the vampires of the world die. Then all the Mayfairs decide that, like Merrick, they're not happy they have everything they ever wanted and so they drink a bunch of strichnine laced koolaid and have their funerals at the Mayfair funeral home then get wheeled down Mayfair avenue to their tombs in Mayfair cemetary. Personally I like to think that Anne Rice is not the problem here. She's merely been affected by a horrible disease that's been spreading like wildfire since 2001. I call this disease: Lucas' Syndrome. No it has nothing to do with my boss.
Lucas' Syndrome only effects rich folks involved in the entertainment industry. The first known victim and namesake of the disease is George Lucas. With "Star wars: the merchandising menace" Lucas began exhibiting symptoms: Inferiority to previous work, greed driven, enjoyment of shock value and making fans say "Woah that was nifty", he ignored his fan base to target, well, idiots, he put things into the movie that had no business being there. See This article for more information. As if that wasn't bad enough he had characters from the good movies dragged in kicking and screaming to be sullied in his new venture. You think that was acting when Yoda fought count Dooku? No! He was trying to get his wrinkled green butt out of there as quickly as possible.
After Lucas was thoroughly infected it moved to the Wachowski brothers. Not to mention the creators of the Mario series of games but that's a whole article worth of misery right there what with Mario Golf and Mario Sunshine and Mario snuff film. The matrix was a visionary movie and it was very cool. Say what you want about Keanu Reeves or the wardrobe but the Matrix was sweet. Character development was good, Neo was a likable guy who didn't like the rules and was very vulnerable and ordinary in the new world he found himself in and you could believe in him and Trinity. The Matrix had a great ending but apparently they hadnt gotten a good enough percentage of the world interested in shooting pillars with automatic weapons, using bullet time and wearing trench coats. Enter all the other crap. The video games were cool, so was the Animatrix because it provided even more depth. But I can't forgive the sequels. Firstly please allow me to add something to the list of things that are played out. Bullet time. No. I know you think it'd be cool to put in your movie but I'm putting my foot down. This is one of the biggest reasons for the failure of Reloaded. We have had enough of those cool freezy slow motion things and the bullets flying very slowly. Next there's the fact that the movie consisted of one third leather, one third destroyed pillars and one third random kung fu fighting. Inbetween there may have been some storyline but it answered no questions and achieved nothing except that Neo is now a god. Thar be spoilers below.
Well, I thought, count that one as a loss, let's see the third anyhow. Revolutions was better. The war ends and Smith dies after absorbing Neo or something. Also Neo and Trinity pretend to be in love then die. Also the guys who were assholes in Reloaded all die. Also I think that Morpheus is supposed to be in love with Niobe but I cant tell. Oh and some guy named Link likes a girl named Z, which I imagine stands for Zelda. She dosn't get kidnapped though, much to my chagrin. The fight scenes in Revolutions have a point to them so Revolutions is 1/4 fight scenes, 1/4 pillars getting shot up, 1/4 leather and 1/4 story line. I have to comment here. I kept count. 17 pillars were killed in this movie. What on earth do those Wachowskis have against pillars? Whatever it is they have some larger grudge against cattle. Everyone in this movie wears leather. Even though Neo and Seraph may not look like it I suspect they wear leather boots, leather socks, leather thongs and who knows what else. There's also a useless scene where our leather clad heroes move through a huge crowd of people covered from head to toe in leather. Apparently the Merovingian (which translates to "Frenchman pretending to be straight" runs a bdsm club where everyone mills around dancing to horrid techno. Speaking of which didn't that happen in the first one?
Granted Revolutions isn't as horrible as reloaded but these things still didn't need to be made. Let me give some advice to all you rich novelists and producers. If you love something, let it go. Don't choke every bit of profitability out of it, put it on tee shirts and action figures, write umpteen books about it and then leave it in the gutter barely alive to be used for the pleasure of whoever happens upon it. And also, since you're rich and would probably spend your cash on SUVs and special effects for your coffee maker anyhow why not give to the Lucas' Syndrome foundation. If you wish to donate or just learn more about this horrible epidemic and ways to fight it please email me and send money. Oh yes and be careful if you're planning to make love to George Lucas: It may be sexually transmitted. Don't believe that crap he says about using a condom, if you look closely you'll notice that's just a thousand dollar bill with Yoda brand duct tape on it.
Watch for my next articles where I'll be bashing Mario, writing about the quality of my court jester and probably saying something defamatory about cellular phones. Oh yeah and if you're reading this Nate, make sure to watch Six String Samurai and Dark Tides, if they're not 100% review worthy I'll pay for them both.