PRISM OF THE NIGHT: A Biography of Anne Rice by Katherine Ramsland

PRISM OF THE NIGHT: A Biography of Anne Rice

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Exciting life of bestselling gothicist Anne Rice, by psychologist/philosopher Ramsland (Philosophy/Rutgers). Benefiting from Rice's input, this will have to be thought of as an ""authorized"" biography, although Ramsland is her own writer--and at times a heavy-going writer, bearing what might be called the Curse of the Jungians, an overdense working out of Rice's sea-changes and gender shiftings. Born in New Orleans and named Howard Allen, Rice has always been an outsider with strong male traits and since childhood has refused to accept victimization by dress and gender codes. Like Orson Welles, she and her three sisters were raised from infancy to be geniuses, allowed to stay up late, dabble at will and read what they wished, and skip school, all with the doting permission of their alcoholic mother, Katherine, and highly moral Catholic father, Howard. Katherine's death at 48 was the deepest blow Rice had ever experienced (alcoholism claimed many family members at that very age and might have claimed Rice as well had she and her brilliant poet-husband Start Rice not agreed in 1979 to total abstinence)--and was followed by her daughter Michele's death from leukemia at age five. These events fed in a disguised fashion into her first successful novel, Interview with the Vampire, and into her following vampire novels, which, Ramsland shows, granted immortality to her dead mother and daughter--until Rice killed them off and arose psychically refreshed. Despite success, she writes as she wishes: Later novels were audience-losers, as were pseudonymous pomo novels, until she returned to her vampire chronicles. Ramsland's study climaxes in the middle--with the deeply moving death of Michele as recaptured by Stan's electric elegy--and her later knifework on the Rice psyche and its fictions gets tiresome. Still, the book is mostly quite gripping, and deserves to hit big and probably will.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1991
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Dutton