Once upon an impressionable writer, I looked up to Anne Rice, genre-straddler and author-galore. My favorite book of hers is a tattered copy of The Vampire Lestat I’ve thumbed through more times than I can count. I compared glitter vamps to Lestat, Armand, Claudia, Louis, and always found those that twinkled to be inferior (so very inferior). Her vampires were my gold standard. In A TOAST TO STARRY NIGHTS, chapter three (easily seen with the Look Inside! feature) I pay homage to Rice as an author of renown, on the totem pole with Stephan King and Ernest Hemingway. There’s even a reference to her erotica.
Just saying, I looked up to Anne Rice quite a bit, ya know, once upon a time.
And therein lay my mistake.
Idols are bad things. Looking at an established author as something to aspire to, only to find out that idol is just a woman with opinions that strongly differ from mine, to the point that some of the things she states affects me in a visceral way should be an indication that said person isn’t to be an idol of mine. A part of me wants to think that as an elder, maybe her thinking is getting a little fuzzled (hell, it happened to my grandmother, and it started in her 60’s) as to why she would proclaim author/blogger/awesome human Jenny Trout, a “gangster bully” when Jenny had the audacity to suggest that the tactics used by a notorious internet entity to be bullying, and posted a link for Ms Rice to consider. Ms Rice stated the link was “dense and confusing” and dismissed it out of hand, then went on to refer to Jenny Trout as a “gangster bully.” Mind you, Anne Rice’s outburst was in response to a very calm, non-offensive post detailing the shortsightedness of that notorious internet entity’s tactics.
At first I watched with the same kind of horror one experiences driving slowly by an accident as Ms Rice seemed to feel personally attacked by a rational discussion. Then I figured it out.
Anne Rice does NOT like being disagreed with.
In fact, if you have a negative view, she doesn’t want to hear it.
Don’t like a book? Don’t talk about it.
See, for me, if I read a bad review, it conjures one of two things: Interest (must have been really bad to get such a review!) or Someone’s Sharing Their Assholery (That wasn’t a ‘review’ but a personal attack! Not cool.) Genuinely helpful negative reviews are as valid as any positive review, with the proviso that honest information is being shared. It’s like pointing literary potholes in the road of Kindle– hey, you might want to avoid that! (and here’s why…) allowing readers to make up their own mind. I think Someone’s Sharing Their Assholery ‘reviews’ suck and if someone hates a book that much, they might as well get a blog. Ahem.
I’m a contrary sort, I can admit it. If I see something that has oodles of high reviews but all are vapid and nothing more than, “I loved this book!” I will avoid that book as if it has third-grade snot cooties. The quality of review indicates the type of reader, and I want context and subcontext. Meat and potatoes, not fluffy cotton candy. If the meat is rancid and potatoes rotted, I want to know and avoid them, thank you very much. Not reviewing honestly does nothing constructive. Sure, authors do love ego strokes and pats on the back, but how can one improve if there’s no feedback from the masses? How can discussion of a novel’s merits or lack thereof happen if silence is encouraged?
I understand her opinion although I don’t agree with it, and that’s fine. Really, it is. To each their own.
But that wasn’t all from Anne Rice, and this is pretty much what killed my fandom– when FSoG the movie got released, Anne posted on facebook her well wishes and all that jazz for the cast/crew/EL James. When the topic meandered toward the perceived abuse, Anne Rice raised the, “Women are entitled to their fantasies and IT’S JUST FICTION” flag.
Any attempt to educate her on the fact that it’s been marketed as a ‘how to’ is ignored. The fact that it can be found in the fiction section despite having a bunch of themed sex toys to help guide readers on the pathway to mutual “pleasure” (done correctly, sure. Otherwise [and using that tome as sole reference is a baaaad idea] it’s courting danger from inexperienced folk copycatting a badly researched novel series) soothes Ms Rice’s mind. To me, it’s obvious Ms Rice doesn’t keep up with the news regarding the pervasiveness of rape culture and this book series– after all, she wrote the Beauty Trilogy, and that’s way more racy than FSoG!
[but it wasn’t marketed to repair shitty sex lives with it’s own lube line…]
The fact her series wasn’t marketed as a means to spice up a suffering sexlife is kinda important. Lolita hasn’t been extolled as the best way to bring families together. The Story of O doesn’t have it’s own movie released on Febuary 14, aka hearts, roses, and sex day, aka Official Date ’em if you Got ’em because ROMANCE FUCKING MATTERS day.
The Death Knell came when Anne Rice chimed in with her opinion that Jenny Trout’s views on a particular book were wrong, horrible, and OMG an affront to the creative community (yeah, because a story about a real woman who was raped by her actual master [slavery, goddamnit] and made light of said abuse is okay because it’s FICTION [although it’s about real people, who once lived and suffered and it’s being made okay because vampires are involved] and FICTION ALWAYS WINS HER ARGUMENTS) when Jenny Trout suggested, rather than buy this book (please don’t read it at all) but if you have to sate your curiosity, pirate it (should be noted that the pirating aspect is what set Anne Rice off. Also, Jenny Trout is the sort of soul who’d send you the torrent links for her own work if you asked nicely. While she did state ‘pirate it,’ she also stated more than once to just avoid the book, nothing good can come of it) because a writer shouldn’t get paid for making light of a rape survivor’s life story.
If someone wrote a story about Anne Frank getting gangbanged by the SS and Hitler, people would be offended and rightfully so. The book Jenny warned others about is pretty much the same kind of train wreck. But all Ms Rice seemed to focus on was the “Pirate it! Booty booty booty!” and not the “Avoid this like the clap.” When Anne Rice posted her views, her followers jumped on the bandwagon, using those very bullying tactics Anne Rice says she’s against. How could she not know that her personal vendetta against Jenny Trout posted in a public venue and seen by thousands of followers would set the internet ablaze and end up getting an anthology shut down because Jenny Trout was a part of it; thus Anne Rice is a hypocrite in my eyes and I can’t look up to someone in any context when being a blatant asshole playing the obtuse angle. “I didn’t sick my followers on her! She had it coming…Responsible shaming!!!” kind of shit.
I know that more often than not, authors are not their art; there have been examples where an author’s actions or interview revelations have done enough to turn me off from that writer’s endeavors henceforth. EL James comes to immediately to mind, as does Kathleen Hale. Now, while Anne Rice’s actions are not quite (but pretty damn close) as douchey as James or Hale, the tint of her opinions has utterly colored the way I see her. No longer is she on that totem pole of authory awesomeness, as someone to look up and glean inspiration from. I can’t do that. I want an approachable author, someone who owns up to weaknesses and is willing to entertain dissenting opinions, not someone so used to sycophants that anyone not on board with that logic is a bully! Responsibly shame the bully and affect their career, they had it coming for having a negative opinion!
I realize a lot of this may come off (oh, who am I kidding?) as whaaawhaaawhaaaa! my binkie fell! Whaaaaa! and in part that’s true. But it’s deeper than that and this (writing) is my coping mechanism. I had expectations of Anne Rice that she couldn’t meet. While she may be more liberal than some, her inability to discuss dissenting views is just such a turn off, and her support for FSoG bums me out, considering the willful ignorance she exhibits in regards to its marketing. That she has thrown her support behind those who advocate silence rather than discuss the flaws of something, because if you discuss flaws of work of art in an negative tone, you’re automatically a bully.
So, as I go through my book case and note my favored novels and coveted space on the top shelf, my heart is pained that Anne Rice has joined the ranks of EL James. That seriously bums me out, although it’s been a while in the making.
Tried reading The Vampire Lestat in hope of kindling some kind of quasi-contented feeling. However, now I find no comfort within its familiar pages. I look at it and have a better understanding of who wrote it, and know that I’m not a fan of that person. The book’s magic has died for me. A whimper of angst and then the light is snuffed evermore.
As my self-proclaimed proclivities toward the Vikings is relevant, it should be noted that things which die get Viking Funerals. Albeit in this case, the book shall be recycled as kindling for my campfires, page by page.
So when I feel chilly, the book can conjure the warm and fuzzies and be useful beyond being a paperweight.
Okay, I realize that sounds bad, but I don’t like throwing books away, I’m not into cutting them up for art projects, and since the book is pretty much falling apart from the reader-abuse [binding is non-existent, it’s a cover with loose pages stuck between them) I subjected the poor thing over the years, it seems a viable option. No, I’m not torching all my Anne Rice novels, just sacrificing the one item that symbolizes so much of my adoration for her.
I tested a page and it wasn’t for ‘cathartic’ reasons. It’s old, and I wasn’t sure how well it’d work for kindling.
To build a fire, take half of a cotton pad, fluff it up like crazy, break up a bit of the pine sap on top;
Got no pix of me striking the firesteel (being that it’s a two-handed gig) but when there’s fire…
one must add more fuel in cellulose form, AKA the first sacrifice.
Not completely gone, but enough that I can recycle the ashes in my herb pots for carbon content.
Illuminite Calignosus has a treasure trove of Anne Rice doing what she does best on the internet, if it interests you. I found some of the Amazon posts very telling (and then knowing she went and deleted a whole bunch isn’t at all suspect) Sigh.
And here is my parting thought: Everything decays, even the adoration of a fan (which isn’t a surprise, really) when the reality of the person behind the myth comes to light. Such is the nature of personal evolution.
Adios, Anne Rice.
It’s been a learning experience.