7.08.2010

Currently Reading: Called out of Darkness

I poured out the darkness and despair of an atheist struggling to establish bonds and hopes in a godless world where anything might, and could, happen, where happiness could be torn away from one in an instant, a world in which the condemned and the despised raised their voices in protest and song.

Author: Anne Rice

Synopsis: Rice, author of a number of acclaimed vampire novels, tells her story about being raised Catholic, becoming an atheist in college, and eventually returning to her faith.

Notes: To my surprise, most of this book actually talks about Rice's childhood (did you know that her original name was Howard Allen? Me neither.) She found reading difficult and experienced the world as very sensory and very beautiful, which obviously affected her writing; there is a strong sense of that beauty in her prose.

I could empathize with a lot of her thought processes and enjoyed the book—right up until the last chapter or two, when she decided to take on the Church's moral teaching. I don't really want to get into that, but will say this much: How people can think the Church is obsessed with sex is beyond me. I go to church at least once a week and can't recall the last time I heard the subject mentioned there. But turning on the car radio, walking through the checkout line at the grocery, seeing a movie or television or reading young adult fiction, there's no escaping it. No, Anne. The Church is not obsessed. The world is obsessed, and doesn't want rules. The Church has rules. That's all there is to it.

But when she talked about the Eucharist, I was right there with her.

The book kind of made me want to go read some of her vampire novels, except... Twilight notwithstanding, vampire anything doesn't do much for me. Twilight is hardly a proper vampire story, with its tortured hero who doesn't want to be a monster. I get the feeling that Lestat is the real deal. Hmm. I might stick with the sparkly one.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for this review. I plan, someday in the nebulous future, to read this (I hope!). I read a few of her vampire books as a teen. Was not hugely into the vampire aspect of things... but Lestat, if my memory serves me, is one of the more real, tortured, and strangely human (lack of humanity as a vampire notwithstanding) characters I remember reading as a teen. I was never into horror books -- I was more of a Wheel of Time (Jordan) and Valdemar (Lackey) junkie during my genre-lit phase -- but I still remember Lestat (and not Tom Cruise's movie portrayal but Rice's Lestat as she so lovingly wrote him).

    Someday if you have nothing to do (lol ;)) the first four books or so (which include Interview with the Vampire, but I can't recall if that was first in the story or not) may be worth picking up.

    Although, take this recommendation with a grain of salt, especially considering that I haven't read those books since beginning to take my faith to heart and mind as an adult. It's possible there is some scandalous stuff in them. For me, though, remembering (vaguely, thank God) such elements from the stories makes Rice's reversion to her faith as a more mature adult all the more powerful.

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  2. Thanks, Donna! I appreciate the recommendation and may in fact try out the first of that series someday... my reading list is awfully long right now, but I'm not opposed and certain things about her work interest me. I can always skip pages if needed; it wouldn't be the first time. :)

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  3. If you want a good vampire story, Jenna, try George MacDonald's 'The Cruel Painter'. Absolute genius, classic Gothic romance with a startling twist. It scared the screaming heebie-jeebies out of me the first time I read it, but it lingered in my imagination--and lingers still--with the strange fragrance of hope.

    I think so many people fret about the Church and sex because so many people fret about sex. Sexual morality has always been the classic jumping-off point for those who want to rebel against Christian ethics. Then, of course, you have the odd assumption that ethics should adapt to the times. I'm still puzzling over that one.

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  4. Mr. Pond: Macdonald wrote a vampire story? Wow. Maybe I'll have to try that--though I had vampire dreams after Dracula, so if I do read it, I'll have to make sure to do so in the bright mornings.

    As to your second point: my thoughts exactly. :)

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  5. Jenna wrote: "I could empathize with a lot of her thought processes and enjoyed the book—right up until the last chapter or two, when she decided to take on the Church's moral teaching."

    Kind of also symptomatic of how people join a church & then proceed to dictate terms of their membership to the church. I will be such & such but you've gotta change this. I will be faithful so long as you ditch these particular things I don't like. I'm a dyed in the wool fill in the blank even though I disagree with 2/3's of what the church teaches.

    We've come to the opposite of "you must submit your will to the church & never ever question its teachings" to "the church must submit to me & not only answer my questions but follow my dictates."

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