Monday, May 30, 2011

Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession

Anne Rice seemed to come out of nowhere in 1976 when she struck publishing gold with Interview with the Vampire, the novel that opened the door for the countless vampire novels and movies that have followed it.  Rice had been published before under the name Anne Rampling, and had even published some erotica as A.N. Roquelaure, but with the help of Vampire Lestat, she became a star in the publishing world.  Her huge success with the first novel would lead to some fifteen novels on vampires and witches.

By the time Rice wrote Interview with the Vampire, she had lost her faith in Catholicism and was an atheist.  Anne Rice was, in fact, an atheist for 38 years of her life despite the unusually strong ties she and her family have with the Catholic Church.  It was only in the late nineties that she felt that her “faith in atheism was cracking,” and that she needed to return to her Christianity.  Rice’s conversion did not take place in some magical flash of insight, or even in a matter of days or weeks.  It was a gradual process, and as she puts it, “It wasn’t until the summer of 2002 that my commitment to Jesus Christ became complete.”

Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession is Anne Rice’s story.  It begins with her upbringing in New Orleans deep in the heart of a neighborhood in which everyone she knew or ran across was Catholic.  Rice was so dedicated to a religious life that, as a young girl, she decided that she wanted to be a Catholic priest.  She attended Catholic schools, went to church several times a week, and was so ready to spend her life in the service of the Church that she did not even consider settling for a position as a nun - and was shocked to learn that spending her life as a Catholic priest would be impossible.

Rice would finally be exposed to a wider world when she moved to Denton, Texas, to study at Texas Woman’s University.  There Rice found herself surrounded by students who had a much better sense of contemporary literature and who discussed topics that had never concerned her.  She would begin to lose her faith almost immediately, but it was a well-meaning Catholic priest who, upon learning of her childhood background, pushed her over the edge toward atheism by strongly advising her that she could “never be happy outside the Catholic Church.  You’ll find nothing but misery outside the Catholic Church.  For a Catholic like you, there is no life outside the Catholic Church.”  Something in the 18-year old student revolted at those words, and “when she left the room,” Anne Rice was no longer a Catholic – nor would she be for the next 38 years.

Called Out of Darkness is a remarkable memoir, one in which its author shares the intimate details of her upbringing, including the tragedy of her alcoholic mother, her tremendous problems with learning to read effectively, her marriage, the death of her young daughter and her husband, and her deep relationship with the city of New Orleans and its architecture. 

Anne Rice has lived a fascinating life, one of which most of her longtime fans have only been vaguely aware up to now.  This memoir explains her rather jarring transition, one that startled her readers, from writing novels about vampires and witches to writing fiction dedicated to telling the story of Christianity (Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana and Angel Time: The Song of the Seraphim, Book 1).  Anne Rice fans will find this memoir particularly interesting, but her story is so unusual that even those who have not read her novels will be fascinated by what she has to say.

Rated at: 4.0


4 comments:

  1. I would love to read this one. Her journey is so interesting to me. I wonder if her alcoholism was a factor in her returning to her religious roots. I have to think that would have helped her to gain sobriety.

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  2. Kathleen, it was Anne 's mother who had the problem with alcohol - not Anne. But her mother's death, which was largely due to her addiction, may have been a factor in Anne's re-conversion, even if only subconsciously.

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  3. Thanks for an interesting review, I really want to read this. I like Anne Rice's work and hearing about her "conversion" did surprise me but according to what you write it isn't all that surprising. I'd ike to know more about the woman behind The Witching Hour.

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  4. Caroline, Rice had an "intense" childhood, especially when it came to her religious training. She lived her religion until she went to college - and then pretty promptly lost it. It's an interesting memoir.

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