I realize how serendipitous it is that I begin with Interview. I so wanted to forget about my plan and review Called Out of Darkness because, although Anne is most known for her fiction, her memoir is my favorite of her books. I also want to go into Prince Lestat so badly!
I have to go back to when I first read Interview. I was in high school. I did not know that a lot of people in my generation were the same. My classmates have seen the movie. I haven't. A girl from the first section (the brainy class) lent me her paperback copy.
Back in high school I would've done anything to fit in. I'd be the class clown, the one who strived hard for good grades, not only for my teachers' approval, but also my classmates', for I often showed them the answers to my homework in exchange for camaraderie. Belongingness was very important to me.
This was a trait I carried to much of my adult life. (Isn't it obvious? I want to jump into the Prince Lestat bandwagon? I want Anne Rice to post a link of my glowing review on her Page.) But it also showed in a lot of other ways. My most honest boss once told me that I sway too easily to popular opinion, and that I should learn to stand by my thoughts because they were, too, valid and sensible.
One may think that wanting to belong is normal for human beings, and it is. I think maybe the reason I push it over the edge is because I didn't quite receive it when I was young, at least not from my parents. I grew up knowing I have to be at my best for people to like me, and that my friends are my friends not because of who I am, but because of what I do and how well I do what I do.
Auditions terrify me. When I don't pass the rejection bruises me. In confrontations, I tend to back down, listen, try to see what the other person's point of view is, try to win the other person, at the argument.
As an actor and as a writer, I am haunted by this fear always. That I am not really part of the crowd of real actors, real writers--that something is missing in me. A certain knowledge, a certain look, a manner.
I feel an outcast. Even in my own church. Is this universal? Do all human beings feel this way? Did Jesus feel like an outcast, too?
So reading Interview now, I am astounded that I could feel more empathy towards Louis than I ever did. This feeling of being cutoff from light and the living and all innocent happiness.
Interview also begins with death. One very excruciating one that will echo throughout the many deaths in the book. The death of Louis's brother, Paul. Knowing what I know now about Anne from her memoir, I suspect Paul symbolized the death of her Catholic faith and devotion growing up. I never really trust a novel now that does not mention death in any way. Death is a fact of life, something we all have to face sooner or later. Paul's death was devastating for Louis, and he blamed himself for it. Does Louis pay for that guilt every dawn as he retreats into his coffin?
Louis's world was full of concerns about plantations and managing it. Paul's world was the spirituality, religious fervor. And when Paul wanted to be a missionary, to live like a saint sworn to poverty, Louis refused. It was because his world as he knew it would be greatly affected if he agreed that Paul's visions were real. I believe a lot of us would have behaved as Louis did, to dismiss another person's spirituality not without egotism.
It is hard not to dismiss other people's beliefs when the affect our own, or go against our own. I think the day we all could just breathe together and cherish each other's presence and humanity is the day religion dies.
But now let me talk about egotism and the need to belong. When I was fifteen I belonged to a group of artists I would have gladly stormed the gates of hell for, and with. I felt invincible with them. I felt loved by them. And yes, I was often admonished for my youthful lack of taciturnity and tact, but I saw these admonitions as to be done in love and in my own best interest.
The leader of this group I looked up to as a brother closer than any friend I ever had. I believe a lot of us in that group of teenagers and young professionals in their 20s felt that way, too. He was a great spiritual leader and model. But then that leader began to make sexual advances towards me. In the fear that I might disillusion the other members of the group if I spoke out. I was fearful, too, that it was my fault. That I inadvertently attracted the man's attention and warranted his abuses. And I was afraid to lose the friendship and belongingness I enjoyed with the leader, and the group.
So I shut up. I valued being part of a group, and will not say anything that might threaten the integrity of the group nor its leader, even though I was being hurt.I wonder now, too, if that martyrdom was nothing but egotism.
I bookmarked my reading just before Lestat enters Louis's life: which was at a point he was so devastated and wanting to die but lacked the courage to kill himself. I'll read some more tomorrow.