The Widdershins

Anne Rice: 1941-2021

Posted on: December 12, 2021

Hi Widdershins,

Sad news this morning: the great author Anne Rice passed away at age 80. Her son Christopher, himself a noted writer, announced her death. It’s hard to overstate how big of a presence Rice was to my formative years, particularly for a closeted and confused gay teenager. People often dismiss horror and gothic fiction as frivolous, but the beauty and soulfulness of Rice’s creations was such a big presence for my generation. “Interview with the Vampire” blew the hinges off vampire fiction, certainly the most important and influential vampire novel since Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” With her genuinely profound rumination on life and death, morality and evil, grief and joy, Rice’s Lestat, Louis and young vampire Claudia (a grown woman forever trapped in a young girl’s vampire body, Claudia was based on Rice’s own young daughter Michelle, who died of leukemia aged 6; Rice’s grief inspired her to write “Interview with the Vampire.”) The novel forever changed not just Rice’s devoted readers, but the genre of horror itself in a way even Stephen King did not. Sequels to “Interview with the Vampire” followed, some brilliant, some not. The Mayfair Witches series also was a brilliant, page-turning multi-generational soap opera that began with stunning “The Witching Hour.” Rice wrote two magnificent historic novels too: “Cry To Heaven” (about castrati singers) and “The Feast of all Saints” (about children of slave owners and their slaves.) It wasn’t just the thrilling stories and beautifully developed characters, but Rice’s rich prose, so evocative in its mood painting and vivid descriptions of times and places long gone, that are left behind for us mortals to enjoy. Anne Rice will be interred in the family mausoleum in New Orleans.

72 Responses to "Anne Rice: 1941-2021"

@DYB, I have never read anything by Anne Rice as that genre of books doesn’t interest me. Despite that, I found your post very interesting. You might want to edit the last line since the word you meant to use is “interred.”

Roz in NJ/NYC

Touching post, D.

IIRC, both Fredster and Chat were big fans of Anne Rice, too. I think Fredster met her at least once (at a premiere?).

@1 Roz, thanks for the correction!! And if you’re not a horror/goth fan, she wrote two brilliant historical novels. “Cry To Heaven” and “The Feast of All Saints.” Both extremely powerful and beautiful books.

And if you like erotica, she wrote those too, under an alias. “The Sleeping Beauty” trilogy and “Exit to Eden” (which was made into a terrible film many years ago.)

@Beata, it’s very possible Fredster did meet her. Rice lived in New Orleans for many years and many of her novels are set there.

Roz, I’m with you. Have never read anything by Anne Rice. The only books I’ve read that had vampires are by Patricia Briggs, whose main characters are a werecoyote and werewolves. Recommended as entertainment fiction. It’s set mostly in southeastern Washington, and with pleasantly little mention of the conservative-right characters who live on that side of the mountains.

Luna and Roz, I’d say give “Interview with a Vampire” a try. It’s so much more than horror. In fact, it’s not really horror at all. Really it’s about a search for the meaning of life.

@6: I tried but couldn’t read it. That is not to say that it isn’t a great book. It just isn’t for me.

I couldn’t read “Middlemarch” either.

Beata, I’ve never attempted Middlemarch. Very intimidating!

@7, Beata, I liked Middlemarch, much more than other works by George Eliot. Writing from that era takes some getting used to, though.

@8, DYB, Like most writing of its time, the descriptions can be quite subtle. I rather enjoy the sly humor and innuendoes present in Eliot’s work, as in Austen’s. There’s a lot of writerly “show, not tell” technique. Most modern fiction is comparatively blatant in writing style.

Beata, glad you were far enough away from that tornado! Sounds scary to hear it from that far away.

@9: Luna, the odd thing is that I absolutely love 19th century English literature. Austen is my favorite author. The Brontes, Dickens, Trollope, etc. – I love them all. I read “Jane Eyre” when I was in 2nd grade and did my first book report on it (we could choose any book to read and report on and that is the one I chose). I have read Eliot’s other major works but “Middlemarch” I could not get through. I found it incredibly dull and plodding.

I have a good friend who feels the same way as I do about “Middlemarch”. Whenever either one of us is going through an experience that is an unbearably long slog, we say it is a “Middlemarch”.

I enjoyed your post, DYB even though it *is* really sad to see her go. I agree with your take on “Interview with a Vampire” @6.

I never knew that about her daughter. A friend of my Mom’s also had a daughter die very young like that. It was her only child. She had a huge portrait painted of her daughter which hung in her house in a kind of haunting way. It completely overshadowed everything else in the house. When I saw it, the little girl had been gone for at least 30 years, but it seemed like she was right there (not really in a good way). I never thought about it like that before, but it WAS kind of like she was trapped forever in that little girl body. Whoa.

Opinion: I hate Christmas. And you should be okay with that.

I can feel it now the way a buzzard can smell carrion from miles away. The dreaded season is here, even if the commercials started long ago. The ads feature beautiful people wearing violently colorful sweaters and pouring fine liquor into glistening glassware.

I hate Christmas. We don’t speak up, us holiday haters. We tend to keep our feelings to ourselves. We endure the commercial breaks that remind us that “Every kiss begins with Kay” and watch as still more beautiful people are surprised by enormous red bows on top of expensive cars. We watch the advertisements for Hallmark movies in which some successful yet unhappy woman moves to a small town and discovers the “true meaning of Christmas” by meeting some working-class dude for whom she will upend her entire life just because he gives her a snow globe.

@12, Beata, that’s funny about ‘Middlemarch’ being used as a descriptor for a long slog! It is a looong book. Some parts I was less fond of than others–the story of the doctor and his frivolous wife especially.

‘Jane Eyre’ is a novel I didn’t care for. Rochester’s a jerk, and Jane’s naivety and sweetness is irritating. Yes, I’m looking at it from the viewpoint of a woman in our era, but the characters still seem two-dimensional. Never mind my opinion, though. To do a book report on Jane Eyre in 2nd grade — that is impressive, Beata!

I certainly agree Officer Goodman is the actual Person of the Year. Or at the very least the various people who developed the Covid vaccines. Elon Musk??????? Nonsense.

I read “Jane Eyre” once, many years ago. I enjoyed it, but don’t remember how much! The Brontë I admire the most if Emily. I think “Withering Heights” is the greatest English-language novel ever written. It’s a maddening read because everyone in it is loathsome. And yet, I can never put it down. The power and beauty of it are just unparalleled in literature.

Did anyone here ever read the prequel to “Jane Eyre?” It’s called “Wide Sargasso Sea” by Jean Rhys, written in 1966, and is about Rochester and his “crazy” wife in the attic. It’s highly regarded and was made into a film in the 1990s as well. I’m not sure I ever saw the film, but I do remember it was the first movie to receive the NC-17 rating after the X was retired. I read read the novel many years ago, but can’t remember how much I enjoyed it. It is a fascinating piece of the puzzle of how his wife ended up locked up there. Let’s just say Rochester doesn’t come off looking well here either.

I first became familiar with “Jane Eyre” when in the 1980s we in the Soviet Union were shown the BBC adaptation of the novel with Timothy Dalton. It was a huge sensation when it aired, everybody was talking about it. It was always a big deal when a foreign movie or TV series were shown in the USSR.

The business about hating Christmas strikes me as smallminded. Hate the commercialism and forced schlock all you want. I couldn’t agree more. (So don’t participate in that. Simple?)

But Christmas itself? Festivities and good food and people making an effort to present kindliness to the world for a little while? It’s wonderful. How could anyone hate that?

I may be a card carrying Philistine, except I think I’ve lost the card. I believe I’ve read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and don’t remember a thing from either of them except some kind of brooding, smothering melancholia.

I’ve never read any Rice on the assumption that it was just dumb horror stuff. Now I think I’ll go dig up Interview with a Vampire. (Re-reading that… no pun intended! Honest!)

When I lived in New Orleans and heard about her support for young writers and the way she extended herself to help people, I got a lot of respect for her.

“hating Christmas strikes me as smallminded.” I should have excerpted more from that article, where the author, I think, feels more that he prefers not to see it or be reminded of it. If you read the whole thing you may have more understanding and sympathy.

Not everyone is down for all this glee.

I come from a Christian family, and I recognize the significance of the holiday. I know the backstory; as a child, in a church play, I turned in quite a nuanced performance as a camel. But I hated Christmas even then because my family didn’t have money. We got practical presents in the good years: A scarf, new mittens, socks and, of course, the dreaded underpants. Our holiday tree glowing bright in the middle of the living room was a beacon to disappointment.

I didn’t like Christmas in part because the steel mill where my father worked had closed. That news did nothing to stop the commercials with shiny, happy, children opening reams of colorful paper to reveal the things that they’d always wanted. The ads seemed to suggest that the more stuff you got, the better person you were. I learned through those commercials that good people got presents and that my family was trash. I took it into me every year like communion.

Sometimes, I wonder what essential part of me is missing.

Each year around this time, I find it more difficult to balance the awful things we see happening the rest of the year with the joy I’m supposed to drum up near the end of it. With age, it’s harder for me to reconcile the good will we’re supposed to feel toward each other at the holidays with the horrible way we treat each the rest of the year. It just feels fake.

You may have a loved one who seems out of sorts this time of year. I ask only that you try to understand that this forced cheer can exacerbate feelings of despair.

I’m with Q on this:

“…But Christmas itself? Festivities and good food and people making an effort to present kindliness to the world for a little while? It’s wonderful. How could anyone hate that?”

I like most Holiday’s and especially Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas…even New Years.
I have never liked stories about Vampires nor stories like those that Stephen King writes. His stories give me nightmare’s and send shivers down my spine, I don’t like that feeling.

I like stories that are not as dark and have a hero or heroine that I can feel good about. I am watching the Netflix version of the Adventures of Merlin for the third time. Merlin is one of my favorite characters.

Admittedly, Luna, having neither a teevee nor boatloads of relatives means I have a lot of control over how much forced jollity I have to put up with. And, yes, if you have bad associations plus all the Hallmarkiness, I can see getting very grumpy.

But the point still stands that people having a good time together is a good thing. The fact that Person X can’t feel that way is sad, but doesn’t change the general Good Thingness of festivities.

I have never enjoyed the holidays. As a child, we struggled with poverty and its many consequences. My mother had a hard time as a single mother back in the ’60’s and 70’s. My father was not around. He left when I was a baby. Occasionally, he would send a Christmas card which he would sign “Dad” with quotes around it as if that was a role he was playing (badly). I never spent one holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, Halloween, whatever) with him in my entire life. I felt abandoned by him because I was. So together with poverty, there was always a profound sadness and sense of loss during holidays, even though my mother tried to make things festive. I know I am not the only person who has experienced these feelings. I think holidays are often times when we feel forced to pretend everything is fabulous when it is not, which just increases the pain of the whole experience. Now, I also associate this time of year with the anniversary of my mother’s death. It is very painful. I will be glad when the next several weeks are over.

Now that I am a convert to Judaism, my husband (born Jewish) and I celebrate holidays that are different and new to me. I find that a source of immense healing.

“O, solitude of longing / Where love has been confined / Come healing of the body / Come healing of the mind.”
~ Leonard Cohen

The great thing about Christmas is that it doesn’t last forever (it only feels like it does).

DYB… I need to report an attack coming from the other side in the War on Christmas Music. This morning, I went out to the garage to get something and that’s where it happened. I could hear organ music playing “O Come All Ye Faithful” apparently for the whole city. Shit! I think it’s the Catholics. It has not breached the house yet, but still! I have an insulated garage door and everything. Not sure what more I can do… Boundaries, people!

I just now saw that Elon Musk was named Person of the Year by Time Magazine. Huh? There are far more deserving candidates.

😯 Christmas music inflicted on the whole town?? Zomg. (Kill. Kill! (said in the Alice’s Restaurant voice)) That would make me move to another continent, I think!

The Elon Musk bullshit makes me ill.Let’s all celebrate a guy who made a squillion dollars by getting government help, crapping on workers, polluting wetlands and a public beach in Texas, and then dodges taxes. Yes, he made some electric cars. Wow. /*barf*/

Time Magazine always tells us that being named Person of the Year is not an honor. They say it is instead an acknowledgement of the person who made the most pronounced impact on the world during the year or some such crock. (Eye roll) I think it’s a slap in the face of all the good people who made a positive contribution to the world.

My favorite episode of “The Bob Newhart Show” (the series in which he portrayed a psychologist) was the one when Bob was suffering a midlife crisis. Bob feels that he has failed to accomplish anything meaningful in his life. He has lost faith in everything that once mattered to him. So he goes to visit his graduate school mentor, a very prominent psychologist. When Bob asks him for insight into this existential dilemma, the wise mentor says: “Bob, it’s all a crock.”

I know, right quixote? Thank you! 🙂

PJ, it won’t last forever!

That’s right, Beata! Counting the days… 🙂

I loved your Bob Newhart comment! Too funny. And true. I really liked that show.

Yesterday, Rachel Maddow did a brutal take-down of Manchinema (and the senators hiding behind them) and their bullshit regarding the filibuster (specifically, using it as an excuse not to pass voting rights legislation). It was masterful.

I am so sick of McConnell acting like he is still the majority leader and maybe he is. If he really does have Manchin and Sinema in his hip pocket as he coyly suggests that he does, then he *is* the majority leader for all intents and purposes and everything is going swimmingly for the Republican fascist takeover. We (obviously) need our big “D” democrats to step up on voting rights and save our small “d” democracy. And they’re not doing it. Rachel made the unequivocal case that they COULD (duh, you all are saying). If they wanted to. Just like they sidestepped the filibuster twice in the past two weeks. So, no more of this “I’d really LOVE to save our democracy, but… the filibuster… What can I do?” Shoulder shrug, sad face. Sowwy.

I still maintain that we cannot do better than Manchin in WV. I don’t care that WV used to sometimes vote for Democrats (Cali used to sometimes vote for Republicans too). They don’t now. Not for a state-wide election. Not unless their name is Manchin. It doesn’t let him off the hook. I’m sure he likes the power of the position he is currently in, but probably not the responsibility. Does he gamble that Republicans won’t go so far as fascism (seriously??? Like that’s an unknown?). Does he *care* that they certainly will go that far? That’s the question.

I am thrilled about Gavin Newsome’s proposed gun legislation and Letitia James following suit. Yes! Neal Katyal was saying it could take 2 to 3 years before it reaches the Supreme Court. That’s a lot of time to make headway on gun control (besides exposing what this rotten Supreme Court has wrought). Neal was saying, why stop there? How about allowing people to sue corporations over campaign donations? (fighting back against that horrific Citizens United ruling). Let’s have some citizen’s justice for them too.

I keep thinking that Manchin is so corrupt (as is his daughter and her Epipen profiteering) that *surely* they could hold that over him and make him try to pretend to be a human being.

Well, lo and behold, now that I’m guessing Biden thinks the time is right, there are quite a few stories appearing, also in WV, about Manchin’s various shady dealings. It’s said to be making him nervous. Do Sinema next, and maybe things will start to shift. Can’t happen soon enough.

And why can’t individuals bring civil suits against people trying to intimidate them at the polls? Why can’t they sue their state for voter suppression tactics? Can they? I don’t know. They should be able to. After Roberts gutted the Voting Rights Act (another gem of a ruling) people should have some recourse. I think Ruby Freeman should sue Trevian Kutti. Maybe justice will only come in the civil courts (like OJ).

Washington DC is suing the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. They intend to bankrupt them. Yes!

@35 Aha, quixote! That’s the ticket! I think you’re right – blackmail (is that the right word?) is probably the only way to get him to do the right thing. I’m glad Biden is on the same page as you. And yes, Sinema next – although I think she’d fold if Manchin did.

38 DYB
Thank you for posting this.

Our Hillary hasn’t become a lost lamb in the woods. She still is smart as a whip and is finally getting more air time and it does my heart well to hear her in full force.

@40 Exactly. (I’m restraining myself from putting that in 72point bold blinking font.)

Although I thought they were about risotto. Maybe that’s why it was so bad? /*rolling eyes really really really hard*/

@40 Awesome! I read a lot of the responses and they were funny too. Someone said there’s no shade like Hillary shade (something like that). True! I loved seeing all the Hillary love. It was also great to see the jabs at Wolf Blitzer, Andrea Mitchell, Ruth Marcus and Maggie Haberman. I guess no one remembers the queen of email hysteria, Chris Cillizza. Which is kind of funny to me. He was really making his mark and now no one even remembers him – not even enough to give him a jab.

It was all so sickening at the time. Like watching a group of people on a coke binge. They could not stop. And just when they were running out, Comey stepped in with a semi load. Snort up!

@40, Our Hillary is so absolutely right, as usual, with accurately sharp wit.

I thought the emails were about tres leche or some other delicious dessert!

I’m still going to say “Serves you right!

The omicron variant of covid-19 has begun to spread rapidly through the country, and we will see it everywhere. But this could be the red covid wave, inflicting the most damage on heavily Republican areas.
There will be a great temptation for liberals to say “serves you right” to conservatives. Understandable as that might be, we should all try to resist the urge

All the antivaxers that get Covid, “Serves them right!”

All those that are too stupid to realize they are killing the rest of us, need to know that Covid is real.

Dump and all his leaders that spread lies about the vaccine need to go straight to Hell.

Little kids may have to have a third dose of their Pfizer vaccine to have protection. I feel bad for the little ones that already had two shots.

“Pfizer’s child-sized vaccine fails to produce expected immunity in younger kids; company adds third dose to trials”

@46, Shadowfax, I read that. They still have some protection with the 2 injections, and it seems like the 3rd will offer more complete protection. No one likes shots. I think they shouldn’t be showing so many pictures of needles & syringes in articles on Covid — it just makes people think “ouch!” The Brits call injections “jabs” instead of “shots.” Wonder if that sounds better.

Maybe we could call them “pricks”. Not for children of course, but for MAGAt guys. Tell them it works as a male “enhancer”. They love being lied to; being told what they want to hear… could work?

On a serious note, I heard a doctor say on MSNBC that they are thinking about shortening the wait time for the booster from 6 to 4 months, which would be great for someone like me.

“Jabs” sounds worse to me, but I think that’s only because I’m not used to it.

As for all this omg! help! needles! stuff I have to keep a hold of myself not to start on How Things Were Back In The Day. Needles were about the diameter of carpet sewing needles. Decidedly noticeable. Modern materials make it possible to have needles that are so thin, you barely even feel them. Mosquitoes are more annoying. Some people need to stop having the vapors about nothing!

Tonight on Rachel’s show, she was talking about how Trump-O’Reilly rallies are drawing meager crowds – like one-third of capacity. She also talked about his 0-2 record as far as endorsements for candidates. She kept using the word, “impotent”, “going soft”, I think she even did the hand gesture of something going limp. Cracked me up!!

One more week of forced gatherings, fakery, and fox news talking points (that’s a lot of effing f’s). I will be so jolly, jovial, and joyful when this is over you can’t believe.

I did turn down one invitation, because I was just past my limit, you know? A lady I work with once in a while (enough to know she is a hard right Republican and vehemently anti-choice) asked me to come to her family’s Christmas dinner (which was today). I lied and said I had made another commitment (I knew better than to use the Covid excuse – that would have really set her off). I realized in a flash all that had gone into this invitation – her talking to her family to make sure it was ok, feeling really good about herself making this generous offer to poor single, childless me, etc. She had this picture in her head of how this was going to be. And I blew it up… She was hurt and ANGRY (how dare I – she was going to save me and I was not playing my part!) God I love Christmas.

@52, Here you are thinking of how declining her invite could cause her to feel bad, and yet she’s upset that you turned her down!

@53 Yeah Luna, it was pretty weird. I don’t know her that well and we’ve never done anything together outside of work. So it was just weird – both the invitation and her reaction to me declining. Geez. I don’t like going to my own forced family Christmas gatherings. Or the other Christmas parties I’m expected to attend. Why does Christmas have to last a whole freaking month?

Have I mentioned that I can’t wait for this to be over?

Through a stupid concatenation of circumstances, I have my own dumb you-must-attend-our-Christmas-ego-stroke-or-we’ll-be-bent-out-of-shape.

The risk is exceedingly minimal — everyone’s 2x vaxxed and old enough to go almost nowhere — but I really resent the jackass who puts us all in this dilemma of choosing between any risk and his inability to understand that You Do Not Do This Stuff Right Now. /*scream*/

That’s another huge problem with the lack of government edicts against parties or any gatherings. It gives us all the social burden of saying “no.” Which forces most of us to run the risk because the social damage is certain and immediate. /*more screaming*/ (thanks for listening! I know everyone here knows all this already.)

Why so many guns on Christmas cards? Because Jesus was ‘manly and virile.’

Muscular Christianity — with scriptural interpretations that can favor ‘stand your ground’ over ‘turn the other cheek’ — has a long tradition in the United States

Never strikes them that “turn the other cheek,” “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and “help the poor and the sick” is in the New Testament whereas “stand your ground” is not. Arghkwkrrr!

@56, Argh! again. Did not mean that to be in bold; wanted blockquote.

Q @55
I am in the same boat. I am going to drop off some cookies and leave shortly because one man, who is coming to the dinner will only get tested and not vaccinated.

No thanks, better safe than sorry.

@55 That’s it exactly, quixote. Well said!

@ 57 I think the bold worked, Luna (jmo). Wow, that article. I guess if you accept that fundies are about power and control and nothing else (which I believe) then there is no contradiction between Jesus and guns (the ultimate power and control weapon). It’s just insulting that they want to have it both ways – to be seen as both holy and militant and expect rational people to accept that as making sense.

They also ignore Jesus when it comes to ambition and money.

Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

And “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Yeah, they ain’t doing that shit either (and me either). But why bother with it if you’re not going to follow it? Oh that’s right… power and control.

PJ @52, God that was funny!

We aren’t into Christmas either. Sometimes we buy each other gifts & have a no frills gift night, nice dinner & a movie, or sometimes we go on a trip.

@62. The poor guy. If only someone ran Russia who could do something about it.

Instead of having so many obligations to mass troops (in superspreader events) to bully other countries.

That sounds really nice, socal! @60.

All I want for Christmas is for Dump to get indicted. It would make all my suffering this month worth it. 🙂 I would ask for Manchin and Sinema to grow a conscience and pass voting rights legislation, but I know I’m not going to get that. The only hope for those two is finding some leverage on them (like you were talking about, quixote). I know Democrats don’t like to play that way, but the enemy is at the gate!

@62 That is so sad. I feel really bad for him.

It was really good to see Maggie Hassan come out from behind the Manchinema shadow and publicly proclaim that she has chosen a side. She’s on the side of democracy. She wants to change the Senate rules to pass voting rights. Great job Maggie!

I can see why other democratic countries are still waiting to exhale on America even though the Lump of Lard lost over a year ago. We are still clearly in the fight for our lives as a democracy.

It’s interesting (sad, pathetic, disturbing) that Republicans initially sold (at least around here) voter suppression tactics as necessary to protect the vote from “illegal aliens” (brown people). But their real target has always been black people. After all these years, deep down, they still don’t think black people should have the right to vote.

*She* can’t let go. Right. The one who has handled everything, including an election stolen from her, with unimaginable grace.

God, I hate these people.

“unimaginable grace”


Oh, this could be fun!



Those that want our Hillary to go back to the woods and keep quiet have seriously misjudged a very intelligent woman.

@70. All Black law team.

I love it!

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