Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My different editions of Interview with the Vampire

The edition I have read over and over again is a large paperback 20th anniversary edition of Interview with the Vampire published by Ballantine Books. It is now with my cousin Uriel. He has just read Claudia's Story and now he's ready for the real deal.

I also have the leatherbound edition that also contains The Vampire Lestat, and The Queen of the Damned. That's the edition I am reading now, since my other book is on loan. I have since purchased online a hardbound edition of QOTD and I'm just waiting for it to be shipped.

We are going up to Baguio because I also bought from a seller there Interview with the Vampire, hardcover edition, and The Vampire Armand. I am ending my 2014 with a bang and starting 2015 with fangs!

So, to complete my hardcover collection of Anne Rice's books, I just need to find The Feast of All Saints, The Witching Hour, Blood Canticle, and Blackwood Farm. I am also looking for the first edition of The Mummy in large paperback.

Happy New Year to all!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Day 24 on IWTV: Claudia has a plan

"Locked together in hatred," was how Claudia described their trio, and Louis felt despair towards all this. Claudia had nowhere to go, and it seemed like he felt neither did he. Living alone as a mortal, in one's twilight years, awaiting death in a home for the aged... we are familiar with this in this century. Sad this image might be, but something the society has come to expect. But to live alone for all eternity?

Louis and Claudia did not yet know that there were other vampires besides them. And they were stuck with Lestat, their enigmatic, charismatic, and villainous maker. I wish I can quote in full here what Claudia said to Louis, for it was so insightful, and important regarding Louis's character and nature, and elegantly written. But I would not. I would rather that you read the novel alongside me. That you even read deeper into it, farther than my own slovenly pace, and admire it on your own. All of this beautiful insight to Louis's character amidst the image of the skull and lavender petals.

At this point it is revealed what Claudia's vampire age was: sixty-five years old, trapped forever in a young child's body. And now she connives with Louis to leave Lestat, something that Louis had often dreamed of but never thought possible.

While I feel sorry for Lestat, I side with Claudia in this. I think everyone in an abusive relationship, where one deems to make himself master and of his equals his slaves, should leave. No one deserves to be abused and used. I live in the Philippines, probably the only country in the world today where the Catholic Church holds the bastion over the government. We have no divorce laws, and "annulment" laws are only for the rich. So many abused wives (or husbands) are stuck in marriages that are better ended. But to be locked together in hatred is to be in hell on earth.

This is never an easy decision, of course. The price of liberation. But to do that, one must be free first in his own mind. Louis had always seen himself as trapped, fated unto Lestat. Claudia saw different. Claudia had a plan.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Day 23 on IWTV: Vampire Eyes

With the rising of Claudia's self-awareness came also her questions, the very same questions Louis once asked Lestat to no end. Only, of course, this time it came from Claudia's unique perspective. Even when she quotes Louis on his term "vampire eyes," Louis admits it sounded differently coming from her.

To see with vampire eyes is to look deeply into the beauty of the world and not to take anything for granted. That's how I understood it from Louis. When I read that part I took it upon myself to try to do the same with my all-too-human eyes. To look deeply into people. To really see, without the haze of prejudice clouding my vision. I also wanted to be a deep reader, something described in a Time article by Annie Murphy Paul. Claudia seems to mean vampire eyes as killer eyes: to be a true predator to the throbbing world.

So Louis takes Claudia out for a walk. White and pink oleanders shoot out from cracks in the street.

Pink Oleanders
I shudder because I know where Louis is taking Claudia. He was doing the brave thing, of showing her the truth of the past, of Claudia's death (and birth into vampire life). This honesty is never an easy thing.

How do you admit to a loved one that you have wronged her at a time that she was helpless to defend herself?

But that was exactly what Louis set out to do. And when he did he described the moment being "elastic" and "painful" and "unbearable." He became acutely aware of her, and of their surroundings, and this is the quality of clarity. Clarity often does bring pain. Pain is its price. Pain and fear.

And when Louis confessed it all, how he fed on her, and how Lestat gave her the Blood, Claudia's response was searing: "And here it is. And I hate you both."

Will there be no end to Louis's sadness and string of tragedies in his vampire life?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Day 22 on IWTV: Claudia's questions

Be glad I made you what you are, or I'll break you in a thousand pieces! 

Well, does that sound like an empty threat from the villainous Lestat? Louis does depict him as the villain of their lives, and this argument shattered the eggshell peace the three once had. I just feel bad that Lestat wouldn't admit the truth to his fledglings, that he had to be so secretive. He had his reasons, and sadly, we'll never know in this novel. We'll have to wait till we get to The Vampire Lestat so we get his side of the story.

Claudia, in the meantime, buried herself in her books, doing research on all things myth and occult. You know, if I were given immortal life, I'd probably read as many books as I could, too! What a wonderful way to spend eternity, to acquire and read books, and to travel! No, I won't be enrolling in high school over and over and over again.

Lestat had a beautiful fountain made, and hired replacement workers to the two that Claudia killed. And then Lestat made killings that made it to the papers! That bit put a smile on my face. But we also see Lestat being solicitous about Claudia's whereabouts. Oh, if only the Brat Prince just outright expressed his love for the little girl--whoops! woman vampire. Claudia now is beginning to ask the same questions Louis asked; the very same questions that had brought nothing but sadness to his heart.

The image of the skull in this scene is jarring, and a grim reminder of death. At this point, Claudia still did not know that Louis had a hand in her death, drinking from her, and that it was Lestat who gave her the Blood. In this sense, both of them are her parents. But could Louis admit this? Could he keep this secret?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 21 on IWTV: Claudia and the corpses

Why I have failed to point out Anne Rice's prose until this post is a major oversight on my part. Her prose has often been described as detailed, lush, vibrant. I agree. I would say her mind is awake, and her imagination is a well-exercised muscle. She does not hold back on description, but she never goes overboard. She treads the delicate balance of just enough description to help us see what she sees and hears and feels and tastes and smells, and that is a mark of a truly skilled writer.

For instance, to describe Louis's sadness, she uses images of darkness, nearing the edge of a cliff, cracks and faults in the earth. Anyone who has ever experienced a period of depression would recognize these. Anyone who's had a happy, blissful life devoid of any sadness (is there really anyone in life like that?) will be able to empathize at least.

Louis's depression threatens to descend and crash upon him once again. When he began to notice Claudia growing up, maturing into a woman, her mind no longer a child's. Anyone who has ever lost a lover or experienced the heartbreak of a break-up could identify with how Louis felt about this time in his life with Claudia.

It is easy to dismiss Louis's depression to his being inducted into the never-ending Night. But we must remember that he was already depressed when Lestat found him. He was mourning Paul's death. Languishing, inviting death to find him.

What Claudia did to the mother and daughter servants were macabre! Claudia has become an enigma to Lestat and Louis. If you are reading the novel along with me, you know the feeling of wanting to enter Claudia's mind, to see it from her point-of-view, and find out why she began behaving like this. But aren't women always a mystery?

Go read for yourself Interview with the Vampire: Claudia's Story, the graphic novel adapted by Ashley Marie Witter.

Lestat was mad at Claudia's brash actions, and Louis was trying to reason with him. As Claudia's "parents," they had had to take care of the problem of the servants: disposing the corpses and dealing with the bereaved family. There's a funny episode of Lestat getting a bit drunk...but this also forebodes a scary event to follow. Foreshadowing, my dear writers!

Claudia asks the question coldly, "Which one of you made me the way I am?" In the movie played brilliantly by Dunst, she screams out the question. In the book, there is a chilling effect.

Claudia drops her bouquet of chrysanthemums. Think about it. This woman in a child's unchanging body, forever in that size and shape, and the diminutive petals of the mums scattering to the floor. That's the picture Anne paints for us.

Claudia is a unique vampire. She has spent her life more as a vampire than a human. She makes all of these realizations. Lestat, being mean, said Claudia would have grown up into a hag (and not age gracefully). The spite between these two is too painful.

Off-topic note. I just noticed that New Orleans is in Louisiana, and Louisiana is named after Louis XIV, King of France in 1643. Louisiana means Land of Louis. And Louis is our protagonist vampire!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Day 20 on IWTV: Claudia's coffin

Before I go to the topic I wanted to write about in this entry, I want to quickly mention that Louis was learning to enjoy the great throng of strangers that were surrounding him in New Orleans, and from this detachment, he gave himself permission to drink blood from humans.

It's a Sunday and again at church I heard the admonition not to fall in love with this world, that we are simply pilgrims passing through, that our home is heaven. And while I do agree that heaven is our ultimate home, I can't help but fall in love with this world. I mean, look at it! The mountains, streams, rivers, trees, flowers, animals, oceans... what's not to love? I am fortunate to be born in a tropical archipelago paradise, beautiful seas and beaches, mountain ranges, plains. How can I not love being in this world?

And then you meet people. I wish to travel more, but wherever I did travel I see a lot of culture and art. And even seeing documentaries on TV about other peoples, how can you not fall in love with this world? Even God loved this world that He came into it as a Man.

But on with the story. That Louis would play along with Claudia this charade for the poor coffin maker showed how much Claudia's influence was on him. I wanted to underline the reason he gave to the coffin maker: "Her heart, she cannot live." Well, was it not Claudia's relentless heart that kept her alive as he fed on her? This was obviously too much for him.

Lestat and Claudia claimed the coffin, not without casualty, and yet Claudia did not sleep in it. It meant something different to her altogether. When we see a child's coffin it is an aberration of nature. It is a tragic picture. A bud snatched too early. But what do we think when a child killer wants it for herself?

Claudia has learned to hunt on her own, and haunted cemeteries and impoverished regions, making Lestat's heart stout. Louis, ever squeamish, couldn't bear it. She is quite a remarkable literary character. Lestat had a nickname for her: Sister Death. And a mocking one for Louis: Merciful Death.

The unholy trinity

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Day 19 on IWTV: Claudia's enigma

"Our life was much changed with Mademoiselle Claudia," said Louis. Claudia leaves an indelible mark on Louis heart, and this carries on for the rest of the novel. I must admit, on my heart, too. Claudia was truly a remarkable vampire. In many ways, she is more a vampire than Louis could ever be: ruthless in the kill, seductive, insatiable. She is truly Lestat's daughter. That's how I see Claudia. More Lestat's daughter than Louis's. More Louis's lover than daughter. But I jump ahead.

Claudia is a newborn vampire, and already she adapts to this vampire life more easily and readily than Louis did. She was not so traumatized by her Mamma's death as Louis was by Paul's passing. She had not much memory of human life to have any of Louis's regrets and clinging--or detached respect, as he would put it.

But Louis did see himself as Claudia's father, naturally, in the first years of her vampire life.

Louis's love for Claudia is unique as Lestat's. It is hard to sum up, but Rice draws it beautifully when she tells us how these two male vampires interact with her. Louis was nurturing, Lestat was proud and ambitious. Lestat brought Claudia to cemeteries and showed her victims of the plague, dead and dying. And he says that Claudia will never die, that her body will always be fresh and alive and stay always as is. He says it as a blessing, but as with all blessings, there is a dark side to it, which Claudia fully experiences.

I highly recommend that you get for yourself a copy of the graphic novel Interview with the Vampire: Claudia's Story by artist Ashley Marie Witter. You can follow her Twitter @TazyCrazy.

During her early years Claudia didn't speak. And during this time, Lestat finally rubbed off on Louis, and Louis began hunting humans. He did not lose his Louis-ness even though he's moved to humans from animals, I think. He still was, in essence, the same. The revulsion to killing, was still there, deep inside, but he would finish off his victims before he allowed it to arise. He killed differently from Lestat or Claudia. Only his melancholy has abated considerably, and he credits it not only to the kill, but to the joy of seeing the teeming life of humans around him. He was becoming more and more detached. This is very important character development.

The three of them went to the theatre often, to see operas and Shakespeare, and in this I envy them greatly. I wish I could afford to see as many plays and musicals as possible, and I find this more valuable than the furniture and carpets Lestat imported. Louis loved books and often read to Claudia. What a beautiful life, really! A romantic, fairy tale life!

Claudia learned to love human art and music and literature, an influence of Louis. Claudia learned to love the seduction of the kill, obviously a trait inherited from Lestat. Louis, of course, never forgot it was he who drew Claudia's blood. Claudia chose to sleep in his coffin with him.

But of course, the story does not end here for them. And Claudia's mind, though retaining her five-year-old body, matured and became a woman's. And soon she would voice out her opinions, her mind, her fiery intellect. And she wanted her own coffin. She wanted to see a coffin built for a child. And there are little things more tragic on this earth than a child's coffin.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Day 18 on IWTV: The scene break

There is a break in the text here. There is a gap, a space, and the first letter of the next paragraph is set in a bigger font. In fiction typography this is called a scene break, and denotes a jump in time or space in the narrative.

We are following two narratives in the novel. One is Louis and the boy interviewer (Daniel Malloy) in a room on Divisadero Street. The other narrative, the heart of it, is of course Louis's  story.

The structure of Interview is set in four parts. There are scene breaks, but no chapter breaks. I think this is to mimic the flow of one whole night's conversation between Daniel and Louis. At this point in the interview it was about ten p.m. The break after the creation of Claudia invites us to pause and contemplate this startling event. A child vampire! A strange phenomenon.

I think this is the third such scene break in the text so far, though I will not keep tab. If memory serves right, the first scene break was just after Louis became a vampire, and also sometime during the story of Babette.

For the next paragraphs Louis talks of Lestat being a man-of-action, reckless, thoughtless in his deeds. He says his actions are always rooted in revenge. Daniel and Louis were trying for a short bit to figure out why Lestat brought the child Claudia into the Night. Oh, if only we could ask Lestat himself what his intentions were! But this again is one of the reasons Interview is a great novel of our time. It sets itself apart in the history of Gothic literature. Suddenly, the vampire is on center stage, on spotlight. The vampire is the unlikely hero and villain. Vampires were, before Interview, several versions of Dracula. Now we are given the vampire's point-of-view. We are asked to examine his motives: both Louis's and Lestat's.

I just found out through the Lestat Book Coven that there is a manga based on Interview with the Vampire. I'm going to read it now. If you're interested in the art, click here.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Day 17 on IWTV: Claudia born into the darkness

"She was sensual. Her eyes were as wide and clear as Babette's." I think, with that confession, Louis just fell in love with Claudia. Claudia's first words as a vampire were, "Where is Mamma?" and "I want some more."

With Claudia entering the scene the game takes a different turn. It is almost like a star has come into the lives of Louis and Lestat, and we see this in her satin hair, her glowing eyes. At this point I am so very tempted to put a bookmark on Interview and go to Ashley Marie Witter's excellent graphic novel adaptation Claudia's Story.

It becomes obvious that Lestat turned Claudia into a vampire to keep Louis from leaving. Louis did express his desire to escape. I wonder what would have happened if he did leave.

When I was struggling in college and my sister was about to finish school, she got pregnant with her first baby. I fell in love with my niece and took to caring for her, and often I was absent from school just to look after her so my sister could finish her studies. My sister used my soft heart a lot for her own sake, manipulating me to stay at home for the little girl, or stay up late so she can sleep because she had an early class the next day.

Well, I soon dropped out of college and thought, Why, I'm investing in another person's life. Must be worth it.

Of course, I shouldn't blame others for my own dropping out of school. I think the first day we become truly adults is when we take full responsibility for all our decisions in life, no longer blaming others for this or that misfortune.

I must say that not finishing college is a shame I carry to this day. And though I still do pursue with passion my loves: theater, literature, I think I might have gotten further on if I stuck to college and finished. Maybe.

Louis and Claudia is the first true love affair in Interview, because so far Louis had expressed nothing but animosity towards Lestat. Louis could have picked up and run away, maybe even carried Claudia with him. But he chose to stay. In his outward loathing of Lestat, he must have deeper reasons for staying that he has not yet admitted to the boy interviewer at this point. Louis is such a complex character.

Facebook!
A little off-topic note here. I am happy to be one of the Persons of the Page! I found Anne Rice's public facebook page where she regularly interacts with her millions of fans with interesting questions, articles, thoughts.

I also belong to a local group of Anne Rice fans, sort of a Pinoys of the Page. The Anne Rice Philippines facebook group, headed by Casey Edmunds.

Recently, I also joined the Lestat Book Coven, where people discuss a lot of about Rice's books. So, if you accuse me of being an Anne Rice fan, well, all I can say is Guilty As Charged!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Day 16 on IWTV: Happiness, and Claudia

Louis, led by Lestat, goes out for a walk in the night. He is leering from the experience of killing the woman back at the hotel. He attests that he only experiences peace when he is drinking blood from a human. But one fleeting moment that I would call peaceful was when he paused and became aware of the sound of flowing water.

How Louis described it made me cry. I know full well what he means. We have a moment of pure stillness, clarity, when we are where we are fully, and we experience what we experience. And those moments are suddenly gone and we don't know how to get them back. A moment of peace outside of the kill. Louis had a taste. The only conscious way for him, a vampire, to get a regular dose of that peace was to kill. And he could not bear it! What a miserable person. Did Lestat really choose the wrong companion? Louis said that Lestat chose him because of his plantation. But if that were the only reason what had kept Lestat from choosing other plantation owners, like say, the young Freniere, for example? Maybe Lestat had other reasons too, for choosing Louis.

What those are, we may never find out.

Lestat says that evil is a point of view, and compares vampires to God or angels. I recall what Louis said, that all aesthetic choices are moral decisions. We see the most dangerous embodiment of this statement in Lestat. But do you find yourself agreeing with Lestat? Even so, you wouldn't confess to being evil, would you?

Louis's nightmare landscape
Have you ever had a dream that you were in hell? I recall two such dreams. Both had the same quality. Utter darkness. Everything illuminated only by a dull, grey, dim sheen. In one, I was very young when I dreamt this, I was separated from my companions. It was a long, long parade from the cemetery. It was the Feast of All Saints. I didn't have a candle with me. Soon I realized that this procession led to a deadend wall, and that I could not trust anyone there to ask for their help to find my way.

In another dream years later, I was separated from my girlfriend (now my wife) in a dark city. There was a gang of devils on an army jeep. They had daggers in their hands and horrid masks on their faces. They danced about, their arms flung about like a spinning top, ready to stab anyone who came dangerously close. I tried to hide behind a wall, but I saw that my girlfriend was in the devils' murderous path. They caught me and I got wounded, but I couldn't die. I was to suffer the wound forever in that Hell, separated and alone and helpless.

I recall that I had those dreams at a time in my life that I was deeply religious, fervent in my desire for God and being good, afraid to commit sin. I said my prayers. And yet those dark dreams.

The making of Claudia
I can fill pages and pages about this episode. But I have to say that the many times I re-read Interview, this part has never failed to make me shudder. I had a hand to my mouth as if suppressing a groan. This has proved Lestat to be truly monstrous.

I wonder if Louis came out to be as predatory as Lestat, would we have needed all this grotesque lessons at being a vampire? Prey on slaves. Prey on whores. Now prey on a girl. It just goes against all human sensibility!

Do I respond this way because I have a five-year-old daughter? Because I teach Sunday School at church? Or simply because desecrating a child's innocence goes against every fiber of a moral society? I am not sure. Don't we reserve a special hatred for paedophiles? Men who prey off little boys and girls, and the mothers who sell their own children? Aren't we disgusted by reports of priests molesting children? For many years before Pope Francis the Vatican hid these crimes and protected their clergy.

Louis fed on Claudia. Lestat gave Claudia the Blood, and taught her to feed on a young boy, a bellboy from the hotel. We respond to trampled innocence as if it is a dark echo of that blessed Innocence mankind lost in the Garden.

Let's see in the following pages if the Brat Prince would make explanations for his actions. Let me end by saying because of this act of his, Claudia, the child vampire, a truly beautiful and tragic character in literature, has been born to us.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Day 15 on IWTV: The women

I just finished reading Prince Lestat and wrote a review on Amazon.com. I am feeling elated because Anne Rice found my review and posted a link to it on her Page.



She had kind words for my review.

Coming now from Prince Lestat back to Interview with the Vampire, I experience an inevitable whiplash of two hundred years' character growth. Not only that, these two books were written from the points-of-view of two different characters, and Louis did view Lestat here as the antagonist. But his sense of humor is timeless.

We find Lestat in another one of his horrific antics. It is useless to ask if the Brat Prince intends to be horrific or annoying, or if he is just being himself. In the movie version, the women he invites into their hotel room were depicted as whores. At least, IMDB.com does list them as such. In the book, they are not mentioned as whores. No dismissive label with which we could generalize or disengage from them: Ah, they were slutty whores. They had it coming. Instead, Louis calls them simply, women, just as Babette was a woman, and so it leaves the judgment in to the reader's minds. Whether or not you are horrified by their murders, whether or not you empathize with them shows more about the reader. Lestat doesn't care though. He knows how to be a sexy, seductive killer. (It is Lestat who calls her 'a damned expensive whore' a little later on.)

And just when our two heroes showed hope of talking about the nature of the vampire, they end up arguing. Sigh. I can't take sides, though. Both points are valid as far as each is concerned. "Does this bring you happiness?" Lestat asks. A very important question, I think. Lestat and Louis, I needlessly point out, have differing philosophies about life and death. Naturally, they won't talk calmly about it but yell at each other.

Louis's point-of-view towards life is romantic, filled with longing. Not sentimentality, but value. Lestat has a more pragmatic view, and more aligned towards his personal happiness. I wonder whom between the two you agree with. And their philosophies affect how they define and live out their vampire nature. Feel free to comment below!

She was praying to the Virgin to save her

Turns out the women were indeed prostitutes, and this last one whom Lestat tortured (okay, toyed with, Prince, if you happen to be looking at this blog) to teach Louis a lesson -- the second whore was Catholic. So now we have three perspectives. Louis who valued human life and chose not to take it whilst glorying in his vampiric senses, Lestat who has took on the role of death-bringer and gloried in his powers of the vampire, and the superstitious sinner who was near that death. The Virgin did not help her. But I do hope God in His infinite grace welcomed her because Louis did lead her to say her last prayer. The nature of grace is that we don't deserve the forgiveness we receive when we ask for it.

In the end, Louis learns that Lestat was right all along. Louis learns this not through some intellectual discourse with his teacher, but through experiencing what Lestat described. Louis ought to be thankful that he has a teacher in Lestat. Lestat had to learn all of it on his own, because his maker, Magnus, left him alone. But I jump several novels ahead. Louis mourns again, and asks if he can go back to being human again.

Tomorrow, let's see if Louis finally reconciles himself with the reality that he can only find peace in the kill.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Prince Lestat, a true horror story for 2014


To hear the Prince's voice again has brought so much joy not just to me but to his many readers all over the world. The literary world had missed him. And so it is with great anticipation that I attacked this book, skipping the blurbs on the flaps and diving right into the text.

Again, the unique wry humor of Prince Lestat, his singular point-of-view, his insouciance and unpredictability fill the pages. But the book also causes a sense of inner dread for the reader. Even now Rice is successful in shredding to bits the thin line that separated fiction from reality. She plunges us into that terrifying zone of Suspension of Disbelief, that great playing arena that conscientious actors and talented playwrights strive to bring audiences to. It is in this Zone where anything is possible.

Lestat walks in this world as we do. This world of gadgetry and WiFi that has produced jadedness and, ironically, disconnection among humans. The Undead are among us, interacting in the Science we humans take pride in and find, strangely, our sense of security in. Are we really so safe? The danger becomes all too real, not only for us humans who walk in the sunlight and the night, but also for these Creatures whom we have come to love through the Vampire Chronicles.

And when these beloved Vampires face a formidable foe, express worry and concern even with their considerable powers and wisdom, then that really gives us humans something to think about. This is why I think that Prince Lestat is a true horror story for our times. This book should come with a warning: Not For The Faint Of Heart.

Who is the Voice? I have had several guesses throughout my reading, but none of them were correct! The vampires decide to meet together. The readers think, uh-oh, all these powerful blood drinkers under one roof? Is this really a great idea? But how can they defeat Pure Evil? The tension mounts with each turn of the page.

The power of the prose is that Anne Rice disappears and Lestat comes to the fore. It his voice reaching out and touching you on every single page. Though she shares "billing" on the artful cover, her name in bold red font as large as the title, it is He telling you the story.

While reading the Harry Potter series, all I wanted to do was to ride the Hogwarts Express and visit that school, even as Muggles are exempted from entering that magical castle. The reverse happens in Anne Rice's Vampire Mythology. They walk this same world we are in. We are not so safely removed from them.

Prince Lestat fascinates even as it chills to the bone. I read it only in daylight, meeting the dreadful Ancients and this amazing cast of characters only when the Sun is up. I delude myself to feeling safe at the remove of a book. I would dare not wish to meet these powerful beings in person, beautiful though they are, and even as there is this desire to tap into this internet radio station to hear their voices.

Is the underlying terror because of the recognition that these powerful beings were behaving as monstrously as humans have and do? Humans kill their own kind. We have done so since Cain lifted his hand against Abel. We have never stopped murdering since. Genocide is a constant staple on TV news shows. Is the thematic horror in Prince Lestat simply the shame of self-recognition? The truest horror we humans have faced throughout history happens when power is placed squarely in the laps of the wrong persons. Hitler and the Holocaust, Pol Pot, Stalin, Kim Jong Un, Ferdinand Marcos.

But what is evil really? What is good? These themes are explored in this thrilling page turner.

Each character introduced in a chapter moves the plot forward, and we ride this energy. And what a thrilling ride it is! Each new vampire shares his perspective on the cataclysmic events, this crisis they face. It reads like a delicious detective story, and the reader hunts for clues on each page, trying to piece two and two together, making connections from what he remembers from previous Chronicles, and trying to find a solution to this crisis.

Every incendiary chapter either explodes with a revelation, heightens action and suspense, or shows a moment of tenderness between two vampires who share an embrace or love for music. Yes, the vampires love. In that aspect humans and vampires are alike. In our capacity to love selflessly, and in our capacity as well to annihilate one another.

In various interviews captured on video and uploaded on Youtube of her Prince Lestat book tour, Anne Rice admitted to needing to read through the Vampire Chronicles prior to writing this latest volume. (There is even that slight nod to the castrati of Cry to Heaven.) And while new fans can just as well jump right into this book, with the help of supplementary appendices to this volume, I think for maximum enjoyment an initiate might want to start reading the previous Chronicles. I say this because Prince Lestat does have the tendency to spoil key plot points from previous novels, and they were delicious plot points that leap off the page if they weren't spoiled for you. Not only that, the Elder Vampires have fully fleshed-out characterizations in the previous novels, and anyone who has read them would inevitably feel some sense of intimacy or at least familiarity towards them.

Here is my suggested reading order. These titles are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
  1. Interview with the Vampire: Claudia's Story, the graphic novel
  2. Interview with the Vampire
  3. The Vampire Lestat ← you may start with this book if you're merely concerned with the vampire history and mytharc
  4. The Queen of the Damned
  5. The Tale of the Body Thief
  6. Memnoch the Devil
    (From here feel free to jump to Prince Lestat, But then I won't stop you from reading the rest in the series...)
  7. The Vampire Armand
  8. Pandora
  9. Vittorio the Vampire (this being the most stand-alone in the series)
  10. Merrick
  11. Blood and Gold
  12. Backwood Farm
  13. Blood Canticle
If you can't wait, then read Claudia's Story, The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned.

Several pieces of music, from classical to contemporary, are referenced in the novel. It's a delight that YouTube and Google exist now, and you can easily listen to them online. If only we can find the url to Benji's radio station!

One of my favorite themes shimmering through the novel is the idea that no matter how misshapen or ugly our physical bodies are, we carry inside a beautiful soul if we nourish it with love, surround it with beauty, art. You see this in the stories of Magnus and Hesketh.

Another important theme is one of a more truthful view of one's self. The Ancient Gregory speaking to Armand said it best: "You are on the threshold of a great journey, and you must begin to think in terms of what you can do as a powerful spiritual and biological being. Stop with the self-loathing. Stop with imagery of 'the damned' this and 'the damned' that! We are not damned. We never were. Who under the sun has the right to damn any living breathing creature?" Who indeed? Humans, hear this, we who make a sport of damning others as often as we damn ourselves.

Vintage Anne to turn our definition of Evil on its head, help us to reexamine it, face it, maybe accept its entity unto ourselves and learn from it. Prince Lestat offers philosophical considerations that fill an inquisitive mind for many nights, told through a fast-paced plot and flesh-and-blood characters. In the end it shows us that a true path to salvation must involve, at its core, a full acceptance and love of one's self and others. The woman who singularly created a new vampire genre now propels it into a whole new and exciting direction. I am sure that there will be a slew of Meyers and other imitators that will follow her lead and attempt to expand on her work.

The massive cast of characters in the novel may seem daunting, but a sort of dramatis personae at the back of the book helps. Even more so, each of the characters have their distinct voices, personalities, histories, and perspectives, and these preclude any confusion. No easy feat for writers of lesser talent, but this Anne Rice, whose imagination created the The Witching Hour with its many generations of witches. It is only a marvel that all of these personalities fully thrive and live in her head.

Truly, ours is an age of the Superhero. We see it in movies, in pop songs, in children's books. Didn't we see Marvel and Disney, two media giants, merge in this decade? In our time where there is much certainty, we do look for a Superhero who will be our champion, our strength, our guide, whether that Superhero is willing or not. The vampires have Lestat. Who do you look up to as your hero?

Lestat, Prince, I do not know if you check Google at all. I want to tell you I love you, as much as I fear you. I know this would reach you somehow. After all, Sir David Talbot said this about your kind, and I quote, "We're all human [still] no matter how long we go on." Thank you for showing us how to fully love and accept ourselves.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Day 14 on IWTV: Claudia

Saint Paul confessed, "I do not understand my own actions. I am baffled, bewildered. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe, which my moral instinct condemns."

I was reminded of that passage from the Epistle to the Romans when Louis walked the dark streets of New Orleans, shaken by Babette's accusation that he was the devil. Louis feelings were often conflicted. What are we, really? Are we what we feel we are? Are we what other people say we are?

It was at this point in Louis's vampire life that he found Claudia.
Kirsten Dunst as Claudia in the
film adaptation

Louis felt conflicted about this young five-year-old girl. Am I damned? If so, why do I feel such pity for her? And then he asks, If I am damned I must want to kill her. Which is something Lestat could have done. In this way has not Louis condemned Lestat as a ruthless killer?

*Spoiler Alert* Louis fed on the young girl. Was this an aesthetic choice? When he accepted his damnation, bound no longer by thoughts of what is moral and not, was that when he allowed himself to feed on a human? Was this his aesthetic choice? Could he blame Babette's hatred of him? Lestat's relentless goading?

I needed to check. Was Claudia Louis's first human victim in four years, the first being the black slave which Lestat caught for him as part of his lessons? It seemed that after that slave Louis fed on nothing but animals. Was it Louis's ego that makes him think he is less evil by feeding on animals? (I once met a couple from church who were devout vegetarians, and they talked as if they were above reproach because they ate nothing but vegetables, as if they were closer to God because of their diet.)

And then Lestat does something absolutely morbid that I am not going to spoil for those who have not read it. He and Louis fought hard, and then Lestat consigned him to his coffin. And Louis makes observations here about the vampire's state during the daytime. Pay attention, fellow writers! Anne Rice here (whether consciously or unconsciously) laying down what is called foreshadowing. A very important writing lesson!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Day 13 on IWTV: Decisions

Louis said that all aesthetic decisions are moral.

I recently speed-wrote through NaNoWriMo a yet-to-be-finished erotica. I felt ashamed as I was writing it. Was I losing my faith? Why was that the story that wanted to come out of me?

I recently got contacted by a local publishing company and they were asking for sample chapters of another novel, more conservative, and I felt myself blocked, unable to write.

Is my art my best expression of my relationship with God? Is that even the right question? Is all morality rooted in a belief in God?

I think this is the theme I most want to explore today. I recently emailed my friends about my spiritual quest.
It has for me become a search for God and a desire for a relationship with God that goes outside the traditional Judeo-Christian framework I was brought up in. Naturally, I am at a disadvantage. What other access do I have? There is the Bible, written by Hebrews. How do I escape that? I go to a traditional New Testament church. Do I dare make a religion out of The Artist's Way? How to form a relationship with the I AM with the purity of just who the I AM is vis-a-vis who I am. 
Do you think art holds the key?
Those was my email. I feel I am beginning to have a spiritual quest, though in truth I am not so much afraid to take the first step as I don't know how. I wanted to find God in the blossoming of a flower, in the roar of a lion, in an arched foot of a dancer, in a haiku.

Last week I saw Zeitgeist, the docu-film, and it only strengthened my faith in the historical Jesus. I felt the movie was a heartbroken American's response to 9 11 and the many other national issues his country faces.

Right now I feel like I am being pulled theologically towards diverse directions, and that God is not necessarily against this. God is allowing it. I'm sure my church might. They would admonish me to stick to the faith, to not be swayed by vain philosophies, echoing the words of Paul. I'm not sure how apt that is. I feel I want to examine what it is I do believe.

I have always gravitated towards three contemporary theologians who are not so popular in my church, mainly because their writings can be misconstrued as dangerous. Philip Yancey, author of Where is God when it hurts?, Mark Galli, author of Jesus, mean and wild, and John Eldredge, author of Beautiful Outlaw. They present, at least to me, a radical view of Jesus, the Bible, and what it means to be a disciple. I also encountered Behemoth Magazine, whose articles are challenging and engaging. It has its roots in Job's doubts and God's response to overwhelm and strike awe.

Today I encountered two authors I want to read, too. Tanya Marie Luhrmann, who explored from an anthropologist's lens the 21st century evangelical faith, and New Age writer Neale Donald Walsch who released a book that said all our beliefs about God are wrong.

The Visayas has not fully recovered from Typhoon Haiyan, and already Typhoon Hagupit is on its way. Where is Jesus who calmed the storm? You can already hear the greediness brewing in the government, hungry again to receive international donations in the aftermath.

But the weather outside is quite balmy. The sun is momentarily shining, and then hiding his heat behind a cloud, like a gracious father allowing his sons to play a few more minutes of video games. I feel with each breath I am at once in the Past, with my mistakes but feeling no regret, just loving acceptance, and at the same time in eager and calm anticipation of the gifts of the Future, and still fully in the Present, in my room, with my books, my pen and paper, my breath.

My aesthetic love, the theater, I haven't been in over a month. I miss it, though I enjoy the "cool off" from this hot love affair with acting. I let pass two awesome auditions, making silly excuses to myself. And the invitation to party tonight with theater friends, though I'm not at the moment feeling very sociable. There is that unfinished erotica that I need to work on, and the sample chapters I need to send to a Christian publishing company. And a full-time job to start in nine days.

I am now scrambling, through meditation and yoga, to consolidate a core, a centre, from which I can view all of these expansions in myself in a detached and yet committed attitude.

God revealed Himself to the Chosen People, the Jews. God revealed Himself in Perfect Expression in Christ Jesus. God indwells those in Christ with His Spirit.

Is there no other way to know God but through Jewish-Christian eyes?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Day 12 on IWTV: Friendship

Louis again talks about his detachment with feeling. I strongly wonder if a good meditation practice will help us to understand how he feels. But through this he explains his sadness about not forming a real friendship with Lestat, and also that he cannot also have a friendship with the human Babette unless he kills her.
Monsieur Louis, I am not even sure that is truly possible between two human beings. Sure, I've had deep personal friendships in life. Two are married now and busy with their respective families and careers, one is gay with a partner. I, too, am married now, and I love my wife, but I still feel lonely. I think as we become adults, at least to my experience, we lose that "deep" sense of friendship or loyalty or connection we had when we were young, in school. I'm not sure about this. My daughter feels like I have a real connection with her, but is she a friend? She is five years old, almost as old as Claudia was.
I am not sure I have a living soul I can truly confide my all to in this world. Of course my church upbringing says Jesus wants to be that friend. Colossians 1:22 says, "Yet now God has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault." There. God is my friend. This doesn't bring much comfort to outcasts like Louis, though.

Louis obviously had a certain love for Babette, whom he saw as a fellow outcast, and it must have stung him so for Babette to think of him as the devil, and yet through all this it was for Babette's sake he thought of. He wanted the best for her life.

I am also curious, because it was not explicitly said, if at this point the boy also sided with Babette. Did he now secretly suspect he was interviewing the devil?

I remember a nasty break up I had years ago. I found out he had a new boyfriend, and when I confronted him gently, asking him, "Don't you remember what I said? If you ever find someone new, just tell me, and I'll let you go. I know how unfair all this is to you." He said he did remember. "Why didn't you just tell me you found someone new?" His response pained me beyond telling. He said he was afraid I would turn into a monster.

I think we are hurt most by people we love. I thought, I shared myself with him. I let him glimpse my soul. How could he think me a monster? So even in love we can be outcasts. Monsieur Louis, I know how you felt. I saw your vision of an unending night of loneliness. I see now what you mean by detachment. Babette meant to destroy you, and you saved her still.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Anne Rice: the Interviews, by Nola Cancel

I just finished reading the wonderful compilation of interviews with Anne Rice by Nola Cancel. Anne Rice shows herself honest, candid, humorous, intense in these correspondences. I especially enjoyed her quoting the Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, which are truly wise words to live by. I used to attend the Temple of Prayer, Peace, and Prosperity at a restaurant near the Ayala Triangle in Makati where that poem is played at the opening of the prayers.

You see the brilliance of Anne Rice's mind. Sometimes it's startling. She is so full of light even as her characters are called the Children of Darkness: vampires, witches, werewolves, ghosts, mummies. But Anne also wrote about the Man of Light and Truth, too: Jesus, and also of seraphims.

Nola Cancel asks the questions that draws the most thoughtful responses from Anne, and I think whether you like or strongly dislike Anne (and there seems to be those who do on the Internet), this compilation is an illuminating avenue to hear it straight from this celebrated and often controversial public figure. Here you can find out what Anne really thinks and feels about spirituality, religion, writing, the Internet, and even fame, among other topics. You find that this bestselling author has both feet firmly planted on the ground, devoid of egotism and artifice.

She is, like most of us who love her stories and characters, a Seeker, trying to understand the true and inner workings of the Universe, and a better way to live as a human being.

I think this book, along with Called Out of Darkness, are two volumes that shed most light into her persona.

Order your copy through Amazon.com.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Day 11 on IWTV: Slavery

So I did watch 12 Years A Slave, which apparently was based on a true to life account of Solomon Northup. I found his life story riveting and disturbing, and I couldn't keep out thoughts of Ferguson, MO out of my head as I watched this searing film. I saw through the film a sugar plantation and cotton fields. Watching the movie I understood what Louis meant when he told Lestat to "use all his power as a white master over them." Back then, the slaves were not treated as human beings, but worse than animals.

Slavery was a fact of life in the South during the late 18th Century in the United States, and I am not sure if they are proud of that. Louis kept slaves and called them exotic. It seemed that the slaves in the Pointe du Lac plantation were indeed of a different sort, not at all subservient and obsequious, but fully African and foreign. (Easter egg! "Daniel" was the name of Louis's trusted slave. Daniel was also the name of the young boy who interviewed him.)

Our nation is not a stranger to slavery. We have been enslaved for over three hundred years by the Spaniards who stole our lands, our gods and imposed Catholicism and feudal rule. The Spaniards sold us to the Americans, who established colonial rule. And then the Japanese came. And after the World Wars, when we were granted Independence as a nation, we were enslaved by greed (by corrupt governments), poverty, superstition, religion, and lack of education.

Today I signed a job offer contract. I will be a full-time employee to a large corporation. I am looking forward to getting paid and buying more books, but not to the time I will have to invest in the new job. Half of the twenty-four hours each day I receive will be devoted to work, five days each week. Eight hours for work, one hour for lunch (at the office), three hours travel time to and from work. I'll be a paid slave in the twenty-first century, although my local church admonishes us that work is good. Naturally, they say work is good. We get paid, and then we pay our tithes to the church. I start on the fifteenth of this month.

I still long to be a published novelist, and to continue acting on the stage. On these dreams I will not give up.

 At this point in the story the slaves were rising up against Louis and Lestat, and Lestat's father was dying. Lestat couldn't bear to end the old man's life because he was, after all, his father. This is our first pure glimpse of Lestat's heart. Yes, he is reckless, yes, he is a true predator. But he's not a heartless monster after all. In mercy Louis killed Lestat's father, but this is Merciful Death, Sweet Death, and there is no horror to it. I do not understand why our minds accept this kind of death for the old and suffering. Do we really subconsciously believe we go to a better place of eternal youth and bliss and health after we die?

Monday, December 1, 2014

A break from Interview with the Vampire

I am taking a little break from Interview with the Vampire for a few days. I want to see the Steve McQueen movie 12 Years a Slave in the meantime to have a picture of African slavery in the late 18th century to early 19th century. This is to deepen my understanding of the plantation that Louis owned and managed, and the many black slaves he had. Anne Rice describes them as exotic and wild, and I hope to see a glimpse of that in the movie. I am not sure if 12 Years would be the best movie for that goal, so if you have better suggestions, feel free to comment.

I also am reading Anne Rice: The Interviews by Nola Cancel, and enjoying it very much. I bought the e-book over Amazon. I think Anne is a literary genius of our time.

I also gave myself permission, finally, to read Prince Lestat, which I am describing as a true horror book for our times. I shall post a proper review soon. Until then, welcome to December!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Day Ten on IWTV: Babette

I wonder if Babette Freniere, and not Gabrielle de Lioncourt, is Anne Rice's first true feminist character. At the death of her brother, and under the altruistic guidance of Louis (a vampire being altruistic and humanist, can you believe?) she was able to pick up the reins of her life and take care of her family.

I also want to point out the effect of the prose on me. So far we have Louis encountering Lestat, and all that Lestat encountered ended up dead. But now we have a human being much like ourselves, with very human concerns like economy and money and the safety of their family members. Now, we have the course of the life of this family of Frenieres, especially Babette's, drastically changed by Lestat and Louis. Their intervention or influence on their lives, vampire affecting human life other than resulting in death, sorts of blurs the lines of reality and strengthens the suspension of disbelief. Think about it. The activities of these vampires (mythic creatures) had an actual imprint on the lives of Babette. This brings the vampires closer to actual reality in this world of fiction, and I wonder how many people can get uncomfortable with that.

Now I want to say that I have a sort of bad history with firsts. And I do not mean first love or first sexual experience. I mean by way of my education. Let me do this in bullet points. My embarassing firsts.

My first grade in elementary school, during the first few weeks, I never could find where the boys' restroom was, which was like on the other side of the building where our classroom was located. So I falsely believed that the only restroom available for first graders were the one for girls, and naturally I wouldn't dream of going into that room! So, on more than one occasion, when I couldn't keep it in anymore, I peed in my shorts. It was embarrassing. Very embarrassing. My parents thought I was incontinent. The truth is I just needed to be shown where to go, which nobody thought to do not until after my embarrassing incidents. By second grade I was awarded first honors in class.

My first year in high school, I was sorta kinda cocky. But that was the first time in my life, too, that I would incur actual red marks on my card. I couldn't understand Algebra. I couldn't understand the subjects taught in Filipino, which were Filipino, Ibong Adarna, Araling Panlipunan. I couldn't get them. Couldn't get the Filipino. I also flunked, heavily, my Homes Economics class. By second year, I was always top of the class, especially in English.

My first year in college was in the University of Santo Tomas. I was having difficulty with the way things were taught there, and I felt there wasn't enough oxygen. The teachers were too strict for my free spirit, and though that was when I first encountered my love for theater, I failed and dropped out of school.

My second attempt at education was at AMA Computer College, but the money ran out. And my Dad has lost patience in supporting me, so that didn't work out.

Third attempt at college education: I was first year in ABE Business College. I was supporting myself by doing lots of theatre work on the side. Then one day, just before I needed to pay tuition, a classmate stole my money. My heart sank, and I began to believe that college and Rico do not mix together.

Fourth attempt at college education: Polytechnic University of the Philippines. And though I was pretty smart, I did have some intellect, PUP would only allow me to enrol in a vocational course called electronics, which I had no heart for. I didn't want to be an electronics repairman. After a year, I found out about the theater program in the University of the Philippines, and with daring and gumption, I auditioned, got accepted into the program, and there I was.

First year in the University of the Philippines, Diliman, which by that time I should have been finished with college education already, I was having so much difficulty keeping up. But I loved my stay in UP. I was supporting myself heavily because my Dad sent me limited money with his thinning patience at my constant failed attempts at education and his unhidden disapproval of my course of choice. I didn't make it past second semester, where, money running out and all odds against me, I stopped going to school altogether. What happened then? My sister became pregnant with her first child, and I felt strongly obligated to take care of her baby so she could finish school.

I tried to be a scholar in the next year at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, under Tanghalang Pilipino's Actors Company program. I failed the audition but was allowed to attend the classes anyway. That was when I totally ran out of money and savings. Dad has had enough of my doing theater, and I needed to find employment as an undergrad if I wanted to pursue my theater career. And working graveyard shift at call centres and having to attend theatre classes and rehearsals took its toll on my health, and I sunk.

So, I had a difficult career life. So yes, while it is easy for me to say now that no one really guided and supported me the way I realize now I wished I had been, it would not be beneficial to myself or to anyone actually to point blame. I do know that this poor scholastic record haunts me and shames me each time I try to apply for work, or even audition. I feel odd-one-out. That even though I have some plays in my resume, and good ones, too, that I would never really be good enough or skilled enough because I lacked the experience of college graduation.

Why all this talk about my past? Because if I had a Louis back then to whisper to me as he did to Babette what to do, to have watched over me somehow, maybe I wouldn't have been so lost or felt so alone. What was it that Louis always advised Babette from the shadows? Defy them with purity and confidence. Above all, perfect confidence. 

I wish I had that wisdom that I could have done that at that point in my life. Hey, maybe it's never too late to learn it?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Day Nine on IWTV: the Frenieres

Louis has elevated Lestat-bashing into an art! Louis depicted Lestat as a truly despicable villain full of greed and vengeance. He said Lestat liked to snatch the lives of those at the prime of their youth to maximize their loss. The best example of this was in the mattr of the Frenieres.

I think this is where when they say Show don't tell, or that God is in the details, here, Anne Rice details in actual guttural, physical example what kind of monster Lestat is as Louis describes. (Understand that the Lestat of Prince Lestat, the latest novel, has grown and learned lot since the 17th century.)

The Freniere subplot was not included
in the 1994 movie adapatation
This episode only highlighted the constant difference between Louis's reverence for mortal life and Lestat's seeming disdain of it. It showed Lestat as being a true heartless monster. Louis's fascination for and reverence of mortal life sometimes seem to exceed that of the mortal's living that life. There is a lesson for us here, fellow mortals! Do we take things for granted? Are we able to cherish what is only truly momentarily ours? Or is it only with vampiric detachment that this is possible?

I wonder what human activity can approximate vampiric detachment--that close observation of human lives, appreciating them, but not letting one's ego be involved. I suspect reading good novels, or movies, or meditation in the midst of one own's life.

I also must not forget. Lestat and Louis were outcasts to the human world. Both responded differently: Louis by detachment coupled with respect, and Lestat by embracing his vampire nature. He didn't care about his supposed place in society or the cosmos. He cared about what he wanted and how to get it. Not one way is wrong or right. Just a way of living.

In the end, did it matter really how Monsieur Freniere died? Maybe what matters is how he lived -- in complete devotion to his family. That scene when he sat down to write his will and testament just before setting out to face the duel, I think, is one of the most tenderest and heartfelt in this novel.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Day Eight on IWTV: New Orleans

I remember the first time I read Interview with the Vampire. I was in high school. I was a teenager with a highly impressionable mind.

It was already a bestseller then. I read it in four days. I wanted to return it as soon as I could to Louella who lent it to me. I didn't want her to say I took my time with it, though I wanted to. Soon I bought my own copy.

But I was young and was quite superstitious borne out of religiosity. I had a very religious grandmother who influenced me greatly. I thought God was angry at me for reading a novel about vampires!

And then Lestat says something that truly terrifies me and, if not for the delicious prose, I would not have gone any further. "I'd like to meet the devil one night. I'd chase from here to the wilds of the Pacific. I am the devil." And I thought that Anne really was writing about Satan in the form of Lestat, and I was afraid but intrigued by this evil. Of course now we know which of the Brat Prince's statements to take seriously.

But here we also get to know what makes Louis a conflicted character, full of contradictions. He is able to go into a stillness of mind, a detachment, and yet his questions tortured him. He definitely enjoyed his vampire senses, but was tormented when he needed to kill, but the kill produced swooning in him. "I looked around me at all the mortals that I knew and saw all life as precious," he said, "condemning all fruitless guilt and passion that would let it slip through the fingers like sand." In fact what a wonderful way to live! To treat your own life as precious and to be savored! And this lesson to be learned from the undead! Louis is capable of love, as Lestat is capable of the most fantastic horrors. Lestat was the petty, murderous thief and gambler, and Louis the investor of the stolen money. And so are we humans. We are not to waste our lives. Every moment must be first known then savored.

And Louis says it was his vampiric detachment that helped him arrive to these thoughts.

And then Anne Rice begins to describe the beauty of old New Orleans of that century. And this--take note writers!--is one of her powers. She writes as if she really lived there, as if she saw personally what her characters describe. This is the gift of imagination, and I suspect, thorough research. Rice knows New Orleans. And so we truly believe that her characters truly lived in that place, for the place is so real, and her characters become, for me and you, real too.The moon that rose over New Orleans then still rises.

Recently on her page she shared a link about the great 19th century Russian writers. In the article Gogol was described, and Dostoevsky, and Chekhov, Tolstoy, Turgenev. I must read these writers, too. To learn from them.

Tomorrow, the Frenieres!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Day Seven on IWTV: Lestat the teacher

I wonder what it feels like to be helpless in a relationship as Louis was to Lestat, unable to get rid of him no matter how much he loathed him. Lestat taught Louis practical things, and withheld also information from him to keep him locked to himself. That matter of rats was disgusting.

I wonder if Anne Rice unintentionally used vampires as metaphors of the Catholics, who Sunday by Sunday took of the host and the wine that was magically transformed into Christ's flesh and blood. Isn't that a bit of monstrous vampirism, too? The insatiable sinning throughout the week, the penance on Sunday, the drinking of the blood and partaking of the flesh to assure salvation until the next committed sin?

Do we go to hell if we die in our sins? Didn't Christ die in our sins? Yet he rose from the dead. We shall, too, so Saint Paul promises in 1 Corinthians 15.

But Lestat was proving to be quite a horrid teacher, lacking the finesse that the manic depressive Louis was looking for.

Louis compares vampires to kings in one aspect
Most of us would rather see somebody die than be the object of rudeness under our roofs. This was Louis's observation. I needed to read it a few times before its truth sunk in. Egotism. There it is again. How many times have we been appalled at the news of a young girl raped and burned to ashes on the news, shocked at the Maguindanao massacre, but we go on with our lives. But to be insulted in our own turf, why, yes. I'm ready to bare fangs and claws.

Lestat's relationship to his father
This was a strange relationship, not further explored in the novel, mainly because it was to remain a mystery to Louis. I hunger for the time I read to The Vampire Lestat and get to know this intriguing and terrifying vampire Prince more intimately. Until then!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Day Six on IWTV: Louis's first kill

Lestat's instructions for hunting and feeding felt to Louis crude, clumsy and rushed. But as Louis finally succumbed into the kill, his description of the experience was a lot like what humans feel when in love! This one of the beautiful deviations Anne Rice's vampires made in all of Goth literature. A lot of today's writers tried to follow suit and romanticized the vampire after this landmark novel.

Rice's vampires are dark, tragic, and romantic. They are not mindless predators. Louis's first kill was chilling, brutal, and intriguing (they attacked a bunch of men and that was erotic), but it also is sacred, akin to deep intimacy of sex, though resulting in the death of the victim and animation of the vampire. For Louis, the result also was his damnation.

I feel really lonely today. That's the truth. I wonder if all creatures under heaven are damned to feel lonely and only have snatching glimpses of scintillating happiness in their lives. All that ache. Louis found out that after his first kill he had a deep respect for life and beauty, and this tears him up inside, because he has become that which takes away life. Can there be beauty in darkness? Maybe. But very few minds are ready to explore it. Doesn't it seem that stars are brighter when no city lamps compete with their light? And yet they too seem lonely in that Great Expanse.

Last Sunday we were taught to fix our eyes on Jesus. How to do that, they didn't say. They said don't look to people or circumstances because they are bound to fail you. Look to Jesus. Where is He? I cannot see Jesus with physical eyes. I can read about Him in the Gospels, hear about Him in the lives of people. How do I fix my eyes on Him? Isn't He inside me? Do I look inward, as in meditation?

At church last Sunday the minister also said that all I do offered to God from my heart becomes sacred. Even after years of church and the blessing of a beautiful family I still have a hole in my heart. I wake up and it is there. I cannot deny it any further. I have asked Jesus before to come in, and it--the gaping hole--is still there. Though now it seems I have a Companion to share it with.

I wonder if the Messiah came not so much as to medicate pain but to be with us intimately in the face or midst of pain and loss. He has suffered on this earth, too, like any human being. I identify most with the Human Christ, the Suffering Christ, than with all the songs of victory belted at church last Sunday: "Everything will be all right `cause we're on the winning side." Honestly, there's very little poetry in most worship songs these days. It's sickening.

We did sing a song that talks about choosing still to just worship, and that song was full of truth and meaning. And so is my favorite Blessed Be Your Name.

There is so much to learn through all the joys and sorrows of life. Louis said, "If I were to maximize every experience available to me, I must exert my own powers over my learning." Then he said in a setting of a beautiful gallery of jasmines and wisteria and fresh rain and a large moon, "I thought of what lay before me throughout the world and throughout time, and resolved to go about it delicately and reverently, learning that from each thing which would take me best to another." I think this is beautiful.

I want to learn God. I want to know God's Presence and Love. I want to delicately and reverently come to understand that three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Day Five: Louis's problems only begin

As the young interviewer got to know about vampires a bit more: the necessity of coffins, the danger of sunlight, the superstition about garlic and crucifixes, Louis gets to "know" Lestat a bit more intimately, by sharing a coffin with him the first night.

In spite of myself, I find this actually thrilling. Morbid, to share a coffin with a vampire, yes, but Lestat is so beautiful. Louis is beautiful, too. How homoerotic! Haha!

Still, a vampire is a dead human body reanimated by strong Blood, and with supernatural powers like speed and stealth. Not at all attractive, really. Sorry Bela Meyers! I wonder if the young interviewer's cigarette becoming one long cylindrical ash, indicative of time and his being in rapt attention, also was a metaphor to Louis's physical transformation. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, but not if you become a vampire.

Lestat's spell began to wear off Louis when he became a vampire. It is very similar to us addictive humans, who go to one substance for a high, and when that does not satisfy anymore, to go into another. Louis was disillusioned by Lestat, something I would never know because I do not see with vampire eyes (nor do I intend to; I'd love to stay human). And how positively ironic that Louis had to handle the plantation still, that he did not escape the problems of the living, and added the problems of the undead to them.

Tomorrow, I read about Louis's first kill. This promises to be a great adventure.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Day Four, IWTV: Louis's transformation

The making of a vampire in Anne Rice's mythic lore is one of my favorite deviations. In almost all vampire tales, all it takes for a person to be transformed into a vampire is to be bitten. In a math book for kids, this was used to disprove the existence of vampires, because if Dracula needed to drink every night, and all his victims rise from the grave every night, then pretty soon all people in the world will be vampires.

Anne Rice tells us different. The vampire has to drain his victim almost to the point of death. The victim must refuse to succumb to death by all means, by focusing on their will to live, almost akin to meditation. Then the vampire wounds himself and lets his victim drink his blood (mixed with the victim's), and thereby, if all things go right, the person rises up a vampire, a new fledgling.

Gruesome? Definitely. Makes my stomach turn each time I read it.

Aside from which, Rice also says to destroy a vampire you'll need a strong fire, or expose him to sunlight. Garlic, stake through the heart, crucifixes don't work.

When Louis became a vampire he saw the world as never before. Vampire eyes are keener, more acute than human eyes.

Now, I am thirty-three years old, and though my eyesight is not twenty-twenty, I can still choose to really see and really look. Not to take things for granted anymore. Indirectly I learn this from Louis. I don't need vampire eyes to see extraordinarily. I just need to really look, and not take things for granted in this world. And not just seeing, but hearing deeply, listening intently.

Louis said, "I simply regret I was not more attentive to this process." Let us not have that regret, too, at the end of our lives. Let us learn to pay attention.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Announcement: two new books to have

When reporter Reuben Golding arrives at a secluded mansion at the request of the home's mysterious female owner, he doesn't expect this assignment will lead to him being inexplicably attacked-bitten-by a beast shadowed in darkness. This single event prompts a terrifying but seductive transformation that both opens Reuben's eyes to what was previously unseen and unknown, and leads to even more questions. Why was he given this wolf gift? Is its nature good or evil? And is he now all alone in this mysterious new world?

I am so happy that Ahsley Marie Witter applied her great illustrative talent to The Wolf Gift. I loved Interview with the Vampire: Claudia's Story! It's a great way to initiate a reluctant reader into the world of Anne Rice. There is even an animated book trailer on Youtube.

I'll let you know as soon as I get my copy where I got it. As for now, I already asked my friend Ivy to help me scout for it. Ivy blogs at Every Nook and Cranny.

The next great announcement was made by Lola Anne herself on her FB page. Her teaser was "For the Roquelaure readers, I'll have an announcement in the a.m. Until then..."

My friends and I were in speculation. Is it the rumored TV series? A movie version? Couldn't wait! But finally, the announcement is made! To be released on 21 April 2015 is the fourth installment in the Beauty series! It will be published by Viking Adult.

Here's the info from amazon on the novel:

The erotic Sleeping Beauty trilogy now continues with a fourth novel by master storyteller and bestselling author of Prince Lestat, Anne Rice, writing as A. N. Roquelaure

Mega-bestselling author Annie Rice returns to where she left off in Beauty’s Release with the disappearance of Queen Eleanor in Bellavalten. Now, twenty years after they were forced to leave the kingdom to return to their homeland, Beauty and her husband Laurent agree to travel back as its king and queen, to uphold the ways of complete sensual surrender, with a twist: they now insist on voluntary servitude in Bellavalten.

Countless eager princes, princesses, lords, ladies, and common folk journey to Beauty’s new kingdom where she and her husband awaken their domain, ushering in a new era of desire, longing, and sexual ecstasy. Provocative and stirring, Rice’s imaginative retelling of the Sleeping Beauty myth will be hailed by her longtime fans and new readers of erotica just discovering the novels. This book is intended for mature audiences.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The claiming of my Beauty books

I had an interesting day today. Thanks to the awesome bookseller over at BOOKS PORTAL on Facebook, I found three hardbound editions of the Beauty series books. The thing is, I would gladly have purchased the boxed set edition currently available at the Giant 3: National Bookstore, PowerBooks, and Fully Booked, except that it mentions 50 Shades of Grey (which I haven't read and don't plan to) on the cover. Why should an Anne Rice masterpiece refer to choppily written prose?

Th first seller, who only had the 1st book in hardbound, actually put me in touch with the second seller who had books 2 and 3. Interestingly, the second seller was once the shop owner of the used bookstore on the second floor of UP SC. But their shop has now closed.

I had to meet the owner at their residence to pick up my Beauty 2 and 3 and make payment. Beauty 1 will be shipped to me.

When I met him, a man in his 50s, he let me in just by me saying my name. He correctly guessed I was a UP student. I was welcomed into their living room. His wife (I'm guessing it's his spouse) was having merienda and invited me to eat with her. To my non-Pinoy readers, that's a Filipino custom. You come into a Filipino house and you greet them, "Good afternoon po." Then they invite you to eat. There is almost always  someone eating at any time of the day in a Filipino household: "Kain!" To which you politely decline with a smile. "Salamat po. Tapos na po."

The truth is I wanted to check out the bookshelf that was nearby, but I didn't want to seem precocious. That's one thing you will learn about me. I'm not judgmental. I don't judge a person based on his clothes, or home, or speech pattern, or level of educational attainment (I never finished college). But welcome me to your household and I will always check out the titles on your bookshelf. What is he or she reading? What kind of person is my host?

If a house is devoid of books I feel sad. Not even one book? Any magazines? Oh my god who are you?

Okay, so I didn't get to check out their shelf, but what the man told me saddened me. He said that they had to close shop because they couldn't pay rent for it anymore. Soon as their children graduated college, they just closed up.

I said, "I loved your store."

"Kids these days, they don't read anymore. They just don't read books anymore. And our rent was fifteen thousand a month. We couldn't afford it anymore."

I cannot accept that students from the University of the Philippines, the Isko ang Iska ng Bayan are no longer needing novels, no longer buying books to read for pleasure, no longer... I cannot! What's going on?

"Maybe they're reading ebooks now," I offered an explanation to the bookseller. "If you ever come across other hardcover Anne Rice books, tell me."

"And if you have friends who might like books, bring them to me," he said.

We nodded to each other and smiled, a way of shaking hands.

A friend, another avid reader, told me that maybe today's generation has not so much switched to ebooks but just wait for the movie to come out. Or never bother to read at all and just get their entertainment from telenovelas and noontime TV shows. Scary thought.

WattPad romances are very popular among the YA demographic, that's true. But I wonder about the quality of writing. My fourteen-year-old niece is reading Talk Back and You're Dead, My Boyfriend the Gangster, Relaks it's Pag-ibig. At her age I was reading Rice.

I end this entry by putting the information here of the second seller. He says he's on OLX but really, I couldn't find him there. But his cellphone number is 0905-470-9226. UP area, Krus na Ligas. Text between seven am and nine pm. Inquire for rare books. And be courteous to the nice couple!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Day Three, IWTV: Louis's conversion

I forgot myself. I forgot myself totally.

Those were the mortal Louis's overwhelming thoughts when he encountered the supernatural creature that is the vampire. He said his past "shrank to embers."

This experience is almost akin, in fact, almost perfectly describes, my conversion to Christianity when I was twelve. I grew up as a Sunday School kid. My parents separated when I was six, and since then, my uncle Albert and aunt Wilma had taken me to church every Sunday. I enjoyed the stories, but that was all they were to me: stories. Fantastical, adventurous, but having no more real value than say Jack and the Beanstalk or Puss in Boots. All these stories anyway amounted to one moral for the young boy: be good and obedient.

Then one summer, in Laguna, someone shared the Gospel to me, and the clouds parted in my mind and my heart cracked open. I realized God loved me, and expressed it undeniably through the Man Jesus Christ. All those stories in the Bible taught me in Sunday School: Moses crossing the Red Sea, David defeating the giant Goliath, all of them pointed to Jesus' love, birth, sacrifice, death, and resurrection. I was reduced to nothing. I made a decision to embrace Christ.

I guess it was opposite for Anne Rice at the time. In the biographies of her, we learn that she turned to secular humanist atheism in college, having grown up Catholic. And I think she expressed the same feeling in this scene of Louis's transformation into the vampire. Isn't it curious that the feelings surrounding the separate experiences are the same? Two different conversions, both resulting into the death of ego.

I always return to that moment when my faith runs dry. And also at the story of my baptism, which is a story for another blog entry. And my near-death at the floods of Ondoy. God always saving, God always loving.

Louis cherished his last sunrise before he became a vampire. He was going to lose the light. I, on the other hand, grew up to be a teenager and realized I lost the dark. The music of the Smashing Pumpkins, whose poetry I loved were denied to me. So were Anne Rice's books that had the words vampire, damneddevil, thief and witching on them. I never smoked or drank. I tried to be obedient. But internally I rebelled.

In college I broke free from all shackles and read the novels I wanted and smoked. I was expelled from the catholic university because they found bottles of liquor in my bag, put there by my classmates. I went all crazy. I thought why did I convert to Christianity so young? Why don't I have the stories of ex-drug addicts, or ex-prostitutes who tasted the dark before coming to Christ? Why was I to be denied all these worldly pleasures?

Louis's transformation into the vampire was physical. He was to have a body that would have powers no human being could have. But his soul... did it change? That was his burning question for the rest of the book, and highly worth examining.

When I converted to Christianity, there was no heavenly lights falling down on me. The world felt utterly the same. But inside I felt cleaned, loved, treasured, assured. Writing about this now as a thirty-three year-old man, I think, what happened? How come I lost all of that? I might not have changed physically dramatically like Louis turning into a vampire, but my inside was changed. I became, in the words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, a new creation. Am I less loved and treasured today than that first day? Surely not! For God is faithful and continued to love me in spite of my many rebellions through adolescence and young adulthood, and even in my 30s.

For us Protestants, the proof of commitment to our new faith was through certain rituals: prayer of acceptance and repentance, baptism. Both symbolized the death of the old self and the rebirth of the spirit. We were to study Scripture and continually meet with fellow Christians. For Louis, the proof of commitment Lestat required of him was for him to witness the death of his plantation overseer. Louis had a reverence for life which, he said, never went away even though he became a vampire. Why is death always a part of any ritual of conversion, whether symbolic (as in baptism) or actual (as in Lestat's killing)? These are mysteries of life I would not know. Life and death seem to be deeply ingrained into the very fabric of our universe.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Day Two, IWTV. Lestat appears.

And so Lestat appears. He drinks Louis's blood just when Louis had no will to live. Even he did not know what hit him and though he had a stroke. I wonder how many people around the world falsely believe they suffered from a stroke when all they'd been was feed for a vampire?

But right after being victimized by a supernatural predator, Louis became prey to an evil that's all too human and all too common. The priest. At first he opens up to him, bares his heart with honesty, and admits to his guilt. In a way, don't we all just want someone to fully witness our pain, and by quietly listening, to soothe it?

But then the priest dismisses Louis's experience. Instead he has all these Medieval explanations as to the death of Paul (Louis's brother), and accuses Louis of being self-indulgent. Yes, this is injurious. And it happens far too often. Priests, or people of spiritual authority, tend to do this. But laymen tend to do this, too. We fear facing the unfamiliar, so we resort to superstitious, superfluous explanations to keep our world spinning in its place.

Louis almost murders the priest. I feel some sympathy for the man. But Louis was out of reason.

Is it really easier to believe in the Devil than in a Good God? Does all the evil in our world invalidate any evidence of a Benevolence? Louis calls this egotism: the inability to accept that sanctity had come so close, and actualized in someone else apart from ourselves. We can't bear to become play supporting roles in someone else's life. Is that it?

I think there is a huge difference in how the West and the East think. In Manila, thousands of people flocked to Agoo in La Union because they said the sun danced there, the Virgin made apparitions to a  young boy named Judiel Nieva. Judiel, with the priests who perpetrated this scheme, said the Virgin ordered him to make gold medallions to sell to the people. Anyone wearing these gold medallions at the point of death will instantly be granted access to heaven. Each medallion costed P1,000.00. Now Judiel is a woman. She has garnered enough money for a sex change operation.

In the movie Himala (starring Nora Aunor), which was later turned into a musical starring May Bayot, we witness the same. Thousands believed in the Divine, though it was a lie, and people made money out of it. The Divinity was huge business. Is this, too, egotism? Or does the East treat spirituality as a commercial enterprise?

When I was younger I believed in the Gospel as taught by the Protestant Church. We were conservative evangelical Christians. The Catholics were not brothers, but lost sinners as we once were. We know the truth now, and hold the responsibility, in fact, the God-given mandate, to evangelize the world. The goal of life for a true Christian is Christ-likeness. To be like Christ in all ways. We asked ourselves, What Would Jesus Do? in every situation.

In a way, though, I was farthest from behaving the way Jesus did. I fell into many debates, and lost many good friends as a result. I felt I was spiritually superior, and though I talked a lot about grace, I dispensed none.

I wonder what brought about the change... this cracking open of my mind and heart. Is is growing older? (I'm 33 now.) I still continue to go to church. Must I have only misunderstood the teachings?

I strongly suspect it was the trials that went on in my life, that showed me I didn't really know anything, and that if I knew grace, that was enough. And sometimes grace means just sitting down and breathing, and that is enough. And that soon I realize that salvation is not based on a person's religion, but on Christ alone. God will not ask what religious institution you belong to before he opens the gates of heaven. Christ died and rose again, and the gates of heaven already are open. God instead examines us: do we love His Son? Do we hold on to grace?

Loving Jesus, and living by His grace. I think this is what the Gospel really is in a person's life.

But does this mean that we should react as Louis did? Mauling every domineering priest almost to death? No, or else we'd all end up in jail. But if your inner know-it-all priest does show up when you see homosexuals hold hands in public, or Muslims at malls, or Mormons at your door, then by all means, kill that "priest" inside of you. Bash his head against the wall. In the meantime, you take a breath, smile, and acknowledge God's love in the other person.