Monday, October 31, 2011

Interview with the Vampire

Rating: 4 out of 5 Tortured, Undead Souls
In the now-classic novel Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice refreshed the archetypal vampire myth for a late-20th-century audience. The story is ostensibly a simple one: having suffered a tremendous personal loss, an 18th-century Louisiana plantation owner named Louis Pointe du Lac descends into an alcoholic stupor. At his emotional nadir, he is confronted by Lestat, a charismatic and powerful vampire who chooses Louis to be his fledgling. The two prey on innocents, give their "dark gift" to a young girl, and seek out others of their kind (notably the ancient vampire Armand) in Paris. But a summary of this story bypasses the central attractions of the novel. First and foremost, the method Rice chose to tell her tale--with Louis' first-person confession to a skeptical boy--transformed the vampire from a hideous predator into a highly sympathetic, seductive, and all-too-human figure. Second, by entering the experience of an immortal character, one raised with a deep Catholic faith, Rice was able to explore profound philosophical concerns--the nature of evil, the reality of death, and the limits of human perception--in ways not possible from the perspective of a more finite narrator.
I was pleasantly surprised when I read this novel and found that it wasn't just about vampires. Anne Rice is practically genius. She explores issues of faith, life, good vs. evil, and philosophy all in an intriguing and fast-moving story. Her writing is brilliant as she weaves the present-day interview and the vampire's story. Louis Pointe du Lac is a likable character because he is the most, seemingly, human vampire. That was another thing I found during the reading of this book. When I was an undergraduate English major, I remember being told that a good book will explore the human condition and do it in a way that is meaningful and poignant. Rice does that with this book. 
The beginning of a novel, if it is well-written, will show you what themes to look for in the book. If you're looking and reading carefully enough you can catch on to them. However, not all novels are created equally. I was pleased to find that there may be some themes in Interview with the Vampire.

Theme 1: Good vs. Evil
This is a huge theme and kindof an obvious one. I think, though, that Anne Rice is attempting to explore it in a different way. Consider what Louis says:

"People who cease to believe in God or goodness altogether still believe in the devil. I don't know why. No, I do indeed know why. Evil is always possible. And goodness is eternally difficult. But you must understand, possession is really another way of saying someone is mad. I felt it was, for the priest. I'm sure he'd seen madness. Perhaps he had stood right over raving madness and pronounced it possession. You don't have to see Satan when he is exorcised. But to stand in the presence of a saint...To believe that the saint has seen a vision. No, it's egotism, our refusal to believe it could occur in our midst" (13).

Not only are we considering Good vs. Evil, but we are also considering what makes someone good, what makes someone evil. Also: why is it so easy for people to believe in evil and so hard for them to believe in miracles and goodness? We, as humans, tend to believe the bad before we will believe the good. Why is that?

Theme 2: What it means to be Human
I am going to be watching for this theme throughout the novel, but I don't really have a clue from Rice that it will even be in there. I can sense Louis' struggle, already, to come to grips with this as he transforms from human to vampire. One of my favorite professors said that a good novel will try to show the human experience. I think this one has the capability of showing it by looking at it through non-human eyes.

Another theme that has been brought up is morality. Does Louis drink from only animals as a moral or aesthetic choice? What's the difference? What is it that finally makes him stop drinking from animals?

I also looked at the symbolism in the book. From what research about the book I've done I've been told it is rife with it. So far I think Louis represents our desire to do what is right even if we are corrupt humans. As a vampire he is tormented by the fact that he is damned and so he tries constantly to rise above his nature. While Lestat represents all things bad in us and the giving in to those things and what it can do to you.

By the end, we realize that this novel is a tragedy. Louis is constantly in search of life in his immortality. We grieve as he loses his companions and his life truly ends. He may have died physically when he became a vampire, but his soul lived on in a tormented state of immortality.

This may have been a darker novel, but I loved it. It took me awhile to finish it just because I have had a hard time focusing on a book for longer than a few pages at a time lately. I think I'm developing adult onset ADHD. Who knows? I gave this book 4 out of 5 Tormented, Undead Souls. Go read it! P.S. Don't watch the movie. While it is decent not compared to the book, if you compare it to the book, it is terrible. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Hunt for a Literary Agent

So I decided that I should get the ball rolling on getting published. I feel somewhat of a time crunch before I head off to basic. I'm not sure how much time I will be able to devote to my writing once I am in the Navy. While my manuscript isn't quite done, I don't think it hurts to get my voice out there and see if anybody bites.

I have chosen to go the agent route simply because that usually eliminates some hefty obstacles. It actually opens a lot of doors that would, otherwise, be locked down. Agents are kind of a middle man for writers. You sell the book idea to them, they essentially represent you as they go to publishers to see if anyone will take it. While a downfall of going this route is that you will always have someone to share percentage with (I'm not entirely sure how it all works, so don't quote me on any of this unless you know more than me and can correct me in my wrongs), but, for a lifelong dream, I'm willing to part with a perecentage of a pittance in order to fulfill that dream.

This week I have submitted 17 query letters to 17 different agents. I've heard back from four so far. Those are still good odds. :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Interview with the Vampire Remake

I'm currently reading Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire for my Facebook Book Club (The Bibliophile's Book Club). It has gotten me thinking that the movie was done in 1994. That's almost 20 years ago. Not only does that make me feel old, but it blows my mind. With Hollywood doing remakes a lot lately, I think it would be interesting if they redid this movie. Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise are both old now (Pitt resembles Robert Redford more and more with each new movie he makes) and it would be good for some young blood to be cast as the vampires.

So here is my dream cast for a remake of Interview with the Vampire.

 Lestat de Lioncourt: Patrick Wilson

Louis de Pointe du Lac: Chris Evans

 Babette Freniere: Olivia Wilde

 Claudia: Elle Fanning

 Madeleine: Bryce Dallas Howard

Armand: Danny Pino

 Young Freniere: Joseph Gordon Leavitt

Interviewer "Boy": Drew Fuller

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Save the Bounce

On October 1, I ran a 5K for breast cancer awareness. My friend, Kira (pictured above second to the right), got a group of us together. Her grandma and great-grandma were both diagnosed with breast cancer. Her grandma is still battling with it and it is for her that we ran.

We wanted to do shirts for our group. While just being goofy I thought it would be funny to say something like Running for the Bounce. It later became Save the Bounce which has a better ring to it. I designed the shirts and Kira ironed the logos on and we painted our names on the back of them.

It was awesome to be able to run for a good cause. Running three miles never felt better than that! I will gladly do something like that again any day!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Omen Machine

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Cryptic Messages
From the beginning, with Wizard’s First Rule, Terry Goodkind set a new standard for epic storytelling. Now he returns with a powerful new tale from Richard and Kahlan’s world.An accident leads to the discovery of a mysterious machine that has rested hidden deep underground for countless millennia. The machine awakens to begin issuing a series of increasingly alarming, if minor, omens. The omens turn out to be astonishingly accurate, and ever more ominous. As Zedd tries to figure out how to destroy the sinister device, the machine issues a cataclysmic omen involving Richard and Kahlan, foretelling an impending event beyond anyone’s ability to stop. As catastrophe approaches, the machine then reveals that it is within its power to withdraw the omen . . . In exchange for an impossible demand.

Terry Goodkind has stood as one of my favorite authors for years. His Sword of Truth series still holds its place firmly as my favorite fantasy series. The magic of Goodkind's world is the believability and the relevance of the message in his stories. Each book carried more than just a fantasy story that was entertaining. I was fascinated with the idea of a contemporary author actually creating a world and writing philosophical novels in a readable form.

I haven't been too impressed with Goodkind's work lately. His Law of Nines was a terrible disappointment. It was supposed to be a departure from his fantasy genre, but it turned out to be tied to his Sword of Truth series in very pathetic and hokey ways. I was hoping that, with a return to the characters and the world that I had grown to love, Goodkind would redeem himself. I wish I could say that he did, but he did not. For me, this was a weak installment in an otherwise amazing series that he probably should just leave alone.

About 95% of the novel the characters spend deliberating and trying to figure out what is going on. They seem so bewildered and shocked when they shouldn't. The characters I came to love would have acted. Think about it: they had just made it through this huge war with Jagang, they are seasoned warriors and wizards. They should not be shocked that the peace would end so soon. Instead, they should have been like "Bring it. Hannis Arc, you've got nothing on Jagang and Darken Rahl." Really, all Hannis Arc has on those two is that he looks more evil.

Richard has pansied up in this novel. There's maybe one or two scenes (I specifically remember one, but I vaguely remember another one...) where Richard actually acts like the Richard I remember. He is a do-er. He thinks and then he acts. This book Richard just THINKS. And he's just a victim. By the end of the novel I don't feel like he learned anything or that he really ever figured anything out. These omens keep spinning out of control, and I wanted him to kick some ass, but he doesn't.

I found myself skimming through the last 3/4 of the novel because the writing was lazy. The characters became stereotypical and forced into molds. There's a scene where they go down into the room where the Omen Machine is and Goodkind lists them in order of the way they go down the stairs as if I care. And I kept wondering why ALL of them had to be there. It just seemed empty and void of really any point to it. I kept wanting to reach through the pages and shake them all.

The only reason I kept reading was because I love the characters, but this book even made me sick of them because they weren't acting like the ones I came to love. These were just carbon copies of them. I think Goodkind is tired of the world, but he knows a Richard/Kahlan novel will sell. Personally, I think he should have left it well enough alone and created something new and different. Redeemable scene could possibly have been the one with the Hedge Maid and Henrik and Hannis Arc, but even that was mediocre. By the end of the novel I still didn't understand what the hell a Hedge Maid even was, and what Hannis Arc's hold was on her. Why was she doing his bidding if she was so scary herself? What was in it for her? SO CONFUSED!!!

Will I read more Goodkind? Most likely. I will just be more hesitant to read it even if it is a Richard/Kahlan novel. I gave it 2.5 out of 5 Cryptic Messages.