Click here to read reviewer Laura Ponticello's take on Called Out of Darkness.
Anne Rice shares her given name - Howard Allen O’Brien – as well as other intimate and personal information in Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession. Quite open and honest with the telling of her life story, she devotes half of the book to her childhood, about her life with her family in New Orleans and her religious life as a Roman Catholic in the Crescent City. The New Orleans that she interacted with was very Catholic; she was not too aware of things non-Catholic in New Orleans since she did not associate with many. Her life was devoted to her family, and she went to a Catholic girls’ school.
The Catholic Church was a major part of Rice’s early life as a child. She and her mother attended prayers and Masses at various churches and chapels throughout New Orleans, and she remembers her senses being enlivened by their sights, sounds and smells: statues, incense, stained glass windows, altar decorations, vestments, and many other items connected with the Catholic Church of the 1940s and ‘50s impressed wonderful memories upon her.
Gender was a difficult 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 were playing Mass or priest or nuns, she wanted to be a priest and told the local priest. He told her that only men could be priests, and she could not understand this. She then wanted to be a nun, but that soon passed.
Rice also discusses her difficulty with reading. She could read and write, but she could not read and retain or enjoy reading, being more 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 made such an impact on her.
After the death of Rice’s mother, 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, saying that some of the characters are stand-ins for her wrestling with faith issues. She acknowledges that she felt like God was staying with her as in Francis Thompson’s poem “The Hound of Heaven.” I found it a bit amusing to read her description of feeling the presence of God as if someone were there with her, then turning the next page her describing 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., but devotes this book to her spiritual life and her conversion. She does say that she has always done a lot of research into the periods of history that she is writing about. She still researches a great deal 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. Readers who knows the Gospels will see the Jesus of the Gospels. She avoids, it seems, any heretical ideas in this series.
Called Out of Darkness is inspiring and a joy to read, highly recommended to those interested in one of America’s famous authors or to those interested in conversions and Catholicism.
Anne Rice is the author of Road to Cana (2008) and Christ the Lord (2005). In October 2009, her first volume of another series of fiction that will be on angels, Angel Time: Songs of the Seraphim, will be the antithesis 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.