A movie-ready tale of Anne Rice’s New Orleans told by her son and starring mere mortals, haunted by their many demons. Set around the time of the author’s own adolescence (mid-1990s), this adapted short-story’s young characters find themselves beset by issues Lestat would roll his eyes at—homophobia, body image, peer pressure. All worthy adversaries to be sure, but somehow mockingly pedestrian in the lethargic Garden District of bougainvillea and weeping willows. Stephen (gay, viciously taunted), Meredith (alcoholic, bulimic), Greg (suicidal), and Brandon (psychotic) are best friends throughout childhood, but soon spiral out of each others’ lives as they grow older, encountering along the way death-by-gunshot (self-inflicted), institutionalization, and numerous other staples in the grand southern tradition. Following a lengthy, lazily unfolding exposition featuring an idyllic New Orleans, the troubled protagonists, and their relationships with the world around them, laboriously implode: teenage angst punctuated by earnest stabs at a Higher Meaning. But they’ll unlock hidden intrigues and find their way to redemption in ways possible only in the bayou. In his debut, Rice charms with his lovingly embraced evocations of the genteel Crescent City and its gay French Quarter, but populates it with facile characters, each of whose pain tediously outdoes that of the others. Soap-dish gothic.