Did you know that Anne Rice was given the name Howard Allen O’Brien at birth? Rice shares this and some other intimate and personal information with the reader. She is quite open and honest with the telling of her life story. Half of the book is devoted to her childhood. She writes about her life with her family in New Orleans. She tells of her religious life of being a Roman Catholic in the Crescent City. The New Orleans that she interacted with was very Catholic. She says she was not too aware of things of non-Catholics in New Orleans since she did not associate with many of them. She had a life devoted to her family and she went to a girls’ Catholic school.
In Called Out of Darkness: a spiritual confession (New York : Knopf. 245 pages. Hardback. October 2008. ISBN 978-0-307-26827-3. $24.00) Rice discusses how the Catholic Church was a major part of her early life as a child. Her and her mother attended prayers and Masses at various churches and chapels throughout New Orleans. She remembers her senses being enlivened by the sights, sounds, smells of the churches and chapels she visited. She tells of the statues, the incense, the stain glass windows, the decorations of the altars, the vestments, and many other items connected with the Catholic Church of the 1940s and 50s. These were wonderful memories to her.
She discusses throughout the book about gender and how it has been an issue for her to live with. She was born with a male’s name and she went to an all girls’ school where they did not associate much with boys. As a young girl when boys and girls are playing Mass or priest or nuns she wanted to be a priest and told the local priest this and he told her that only men cold be priests. She says she first could not understand this. She then wanted to be a nun, but that soon passed.
Rice also discusses throughout the biography her difficulty with reading. She could read and write but she could not read and retain or enjoy reading. She is more of a visual person than a word person. She gets more out of images and art than she does from the printed word. She admits that is probably why memories of visiting churches have stuck with her so long and have made such an impact on her.
This reviewer thinks that after the death of Rice’s mother is when she began to question her faith and started becoming an atheist. She seems to admit that her famous vampire stories were a way for her to work out her faith issues. She says that some of the characters are her wrestling with faith issues. She acknowledges that she felt like God was staying with her like Francis Thompson’s poem “The Hound of Heaven.” It was a bit amusing for this reviewer that while he was reading her description of feeling the presence of God as if someone was there with her and then turning the next page and she describes the feeling like what is described in the famous poem. God is always with us even if we are not aware of his presence; Blessed Teresa of Calcutta shows us that. Rice goes into depth about this feeling of a presence in her biography.
If the reader is expecting Rice to go into detail about the writing and meanings of her vampire books you will be disappointed. She does that a bit in other books, interviews, etc. She devotes this book to her spiritual life and her conversion. She does say though that she has always done a lot of research into the periods of history that she is writing about. She still researches a lot in preparation in writing her new series of books on Jesus Christ. She wants to stick as closely as possible to the Jesus of the Gospels, but she does include some fictional possibilities. The reader though who knows the Gospels will see the Jesus of the Gospels. She avoids, it seems any heretical ideas in this series. The reviewer has read and reviewed both books.
This book is very inspiring and is a joy to read. It is highly recommended to those interested in one of America’s famous authors, those interested in conversions, and Catholicism.
Anne Rice is the author of Road to Cana (2008) and Christ the Lord (2005) and in October 2009 her first volume of another series of fiction that will be on angels, Angel Time: Songs of the Seraphim is expected to be published which will be the opposite of her infamous vampire stories. These angels — from reviews on Rice’s website (www.annerice.com) — are based on the Christian point of view. This reviewer looks forward to reading that book.