Saturday, October 16, 2004

Anne Rice vs. Anonymous Reviewers

The following is a letter Anne Rice recently wrote to her negative reviewers for Blood Canticle on Amazon. I must confess I admire her confronting those who sling shit while hiding behind anonymity. My favorite acerbic professional reviewers - Anthony Lane and James Wolcott to name a few - certainly aren't afraid to add their Hancocks to their opinions. I find that signing one's review makes said review more A. Fair B. Constructive, and if not, then....C. At least incisive in its criticisms and above the whole witty this-book-is-a-piece-of-shit-and-the-author-can't-write school of scholary discourse. It seems all too predictable that the reviews that are the least forgiving and most personal are penned by readers who leave the name box blank.

As for Rice's confidence - well, while I certainly don't share her all her views of the editorial process, you gotta love a woman who'll put her home address out there by way of example for what it means to stand behind your views. If she meets one of her nameless reviewers on equal argumentative footing - or up a dark alley - I'm putting my money on Rice.

Seldom do I really answer those who criticize my work. In fact, the entire development of my career has been fueled by my ability to ignore denigrating and trivializing criticism as I realize my dreams and my goals. However there is something compelling about Amazon's willingness to publish just about anything, and the sheer outrageous stupidity of many things you've said here that actually touches my proletarian and Democratic soul. Also I use and enjoy Amazon and I do read the reviews of other people's books in many fields. In sum, I believe in what happens here. And so, I speak. First off, let me say that this is addressed only to some of you, who have posted outrageously negative comments here, and not to all. You are interrogating this text from the wrong perspective. Indeed, you aren't even reading it. You are projecting your own limitations on it. And you are giving a whole new meaning to the words "wide readership." And you have strained my Dickensean principles to the max. I'm justifiably proud of being read by intellectual giants and waitresses in trailer parks,in fact, I love it, but who in the world are you? Now to the book. Allow me to point out: nowhere in this text are you told that this is the last of the chronicles, nowhere are you promised curtain calls or a finale, nowhere are you told there will be a wrap-up of all the earlier material. The text tells you exactly what to expect. And it warns you specifically that if you did not enjoy Memnoch the Devil, you may not enjoy this book. This book is by and about a hero whom many of you have already rejected. And he tells you that you are likely to reject him again. And this book is most certainly written -- every word of it -- by me. If and when I can't write a book on my own, you'll know about it. And no, I have no intention of allowing any editor ever to distort, cut, or otherwise mutilate sentences that I have edited and re-edited, and organized and polished myself. I fought a great battle to achieve a status where I did not have to put up with editors making demands on me, and I will never relinquish that status. For me, novel writing is a virtuoso performance. It is not a collaborative art. Back to the novel itself: the character who tells the tale is my Lestat. I was with him more closely than I have ever been in this novel; his voice was as powerful for me as I've ever heard it. I experienced break through after break through as I walked with him, moved with him, saw through his eyes. What I ask of Lestat, Lestat unfailingly gives. For me, three hunting scenes, two which take place in hotels -- the lone woman waiting for the hit man, the slaughter at the pimp's party -- and the late night foray into the slums --stand with any similar scenes in all of the chronicles. They can be read aloud without a single hitch. Every word is in perfect place. The short chapter in which Lestat describes his love for Rowan Mayfair was for me a totally realized poem. There are other such scenes in this book. You don't get all this? Fine. But I experienced an intimacy with the character in those scenes that shattered all prior restraints, and when one is writing one does have to continuously and courageously fight a destructive tendency to inhibition and restraint. Getting really close to the subject matter is the achievement of only great art. Now, if it doesn't appeal to you, fine. You don't enjoy it? Read somebody else. But your stupid arrogant assumptions about me and what I am doing are slander. And you have used this site as if it were a public urinal to publish falsehood and lies. I'll never challenge your democratic freedom to do so, and yes, I'm answering you, but for what it's worth, be assured of the utter contempt I feel for you, especially those of you who post anonymously (and perhaps repeatedly?) and how glad I am that this book is the last one in a series that has invited your hateful and ugly responses. Now, to return to the narrative in question: Lestat's wanting to be a saint is a vision larded through and through with his characteristic vanity. It connects perfectly with his earlier ambitions to be an actor in Paris, a rock star in the modern age. If you can't see that, you aren't reading my work. In his conversation with the Pope he makes observations on the times which are in continuity with his observations on the late twentieth century in The Vampire Lestat, and in continuity with Marius' observations in that book and later in Queen of the Damned. The state of the world has always been an important theme in the chronicles. Lestat's comments matter. Every word he speaks is part of the achievement of this book. That Lestat renounced this saintly ambition within a matter of pages is plain enough for you to see. That he reverts to his old self is obvious, and that he intends to complete the tale of Blackwood Farm is also quite clear. There are many other themes and patterns in this work that I might mention -- the interplay between St.Juan Diago and Lestat, the invisible creature who doesn't "exist" in the eyes of the world is a case in point. There is also the theme of the snare of Blackwood Farm, the place where a human existence becomes so beguiling that Lestat relinquishes his power as if to a spell. The entire relationship between Lestat and Uncle Julien is carefully worked out. But I leave it to readers to discover how this complex and intricate novel establishes itself within a unique, if not unrivalled series of book. There are things to be said. And there is pleasure to be had. And readers will say wonderful things about Blood Canticle and they already are. There are readers out there and plenty of them who cherish the individuality of each of the chronicles which you so flippantly condemn. They can and do talk circles around you. And I am warmed by their response. Their letters, the papers they write in school, our face to face exchanges on the road -- these things sustain me when I read the utter trash that you post. But I feel I have said enough. If this reaches one reader who is curious about my work and shocked by the ugly reviews here, I've served my goals. And Yo, you dude, the slang police! Lestat talks like I do. He always has and he always will. You really wouldn't much like being around either one of us. And you don't have to be. If any of you want to say anything about all this by all means Email me at And if you want your money back for the book, send it to 1239 First Street, New Orleans, La, 70130. I'm not a coward about my real name or where I live. And yes, the Chronicles are no more! Thank God!


Mystery Dawg said...


I gotta agreed with you here. People need to put their money where thier mouth is and be honest enough to sign thier name to a review. I don't understand what the problem is, it an opinion as far as I'm concerned. If I don't like something, I say it. If I like it , I say it too. Lest be afraid of what you sow.

Aquaryan said...

As a fan of many writers, including Gregg, I decided to take the time to read most of the's customer reviews on Anne Rice's Blood Canticle. I was offended by some of their remarks on attacking Ms. Rice, personally. It was very cold and heartless of them to mention her late husband. I have never read any of Anne Rice's novels, so I cannot comment on her books. Constructive Critism is one thing, but personally bashing is not, especially when one hides behind the "Anonymous" sign. I think Amazon should monitor the reviews more closely. Anne Rice is not a coward if she is willing to face those who are cowards.

I have read her son, Christopher's novels. I enjoyed "THE SNOW GARDEN", but I was disappointed with "DENSITY OF SOULS". Why? I did not like the characters in the latter novel. They were not as interesting to me. I am awaiting his next novel, which is due out next year (according to my local bookstore).

Aquaryan said...

As a footnote, I decided to check Anne Rice's official website. She has responded to the issue

David J. Montgomery said...

Welcome to blogging, Gregg! Glad to have your contributions.

It was a pleasure meeting you in Toronto.