Phone Message Transcript: Mar. 31, 1997
[appearing on Anne's fan phone line]
"Happy Easter, it's early morning on the 31st of March. This is Anne Rice, I wanted to remind everybody that IN LIVING COLOR, one of the funniest comedy shows ever made is being rerun every night from 12 midnight to 1 A.M. on F/X in New Orleans. I don't know what time it would be in your city, but it is really worth watching. The Wayans brothers are just geniuses and Jim Carrey is fantastic. The show, originally, was a half an hour on Sunday night, in a kind of unfortunate time slot but now they're running two shows back-to-back so you get a full hour of absolute mayhem, and some of the most brilliant satire I've ever seen. It's really a joy.
I just read Shirley Jackson's THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE and I wonder what you think of it. There's time on this machine to leave a one minute message. I need help with that story. I don't really fully understand what Shirley Jackson's talent lies in. I know she's revered by most writers of the supernatural and gothic writers and many American writers, but it seems to me that HILL HOUSE was an unsatisfactory novel, and maybe I have to read it over again to understand exactly what happened to Eleanor. Anyway, I welcome your opinion.
Now I'm reading THE TURN OF THE SCREW, all of this in preparation, and while writing other things, and I'm swimming in Henry James' prose, and I'm asking myself the very opposite of the questions I asked while reading Shirley Jackson. I'm asking myself if prose is convoluted, is really beautiful and worth it. For example, I want to read you one sentence from THE TURN OF THE SCREW. It's about the governess, by the way, and the haunted children in the castle in England. It was made into the movie called THE INNOCENTS with Deborah Kerr. But anyway, this is the governess talking about her little 10 year old boy, Miles, who she suspects is posessed by the ghost of Peter Quint, "He was too clever for a bad governess, for a parson's daughter to spoil, and the strangest, if not the brightest thread in the pensive embroidery I just spoke of was the impression I might have got if I had dared to work it out that he was under some influence, operating in his small intellectual life as a tremendous incitement." Well, I just really find that a difficult sentence to read. I mean, in James' jewels, James' insight, James' beautiful language, James' fine distinctions, all seem to be buried in this convoluted prose, again, I was wondering what you were thinking about it.
Perhaps tonight, though, you're not thinking of any of those things. I just want to thank you again for all the messages that you leave me, for the recommendations. I wish I could answer the questions posed on this line personally, but I can't. There is a listing in the Yellow Pages for "Anne Rice's Very Own New Orleans Tours," and they are run by my cousins. My cousins are the only people I would trust with my very own tours of New Orleans. There is a web site called www.annerice.com and I have started for the first time to really answer the questions on the web site. We did 26 pages of answers the other night, so they will be downloading answers to a lot of questions that have come in that way. So for those of you that can access the web site, I recommend it. Sometimes people call this number and they ask about promotional things--can we do a radio show, can we do a TV show. We really try to keep this line pure, for just discussion of ideas, for an exchange between the readers and me, and we can't really answer those quesitons. Questions like that should really go to Knopf, the publishing house, that does my work in New York. they should go to Paul Bogaards whose number is 212-572-2177. And of course, any other business questions will find their way to the correct channels.
I hope everyone had a happy Easter, the dark rain today was very, very beautiful. I opened the window of my bedroom at 10:00 and I'm far back enough on the porch that the rain couldn't get in, and the whole world was drenched with thunder. It was rain with green leaves, it was really beautiful. I didn't think of it as Easter morning so much, I thought of it as just a gorgeous, beautiful, New Orleans rain. And I could understand, snuggling back into bed with Stan, how people in ancient times must have feared the thunder, how it must have seemed like, how it definitely seemed like the voice of wrath and yet we know it's not the voice of wrath--it's just something rolling over the heavens. And that brings me back to the image of Rip Van Winkle going to sleep for 100 years, listening to the Dutchman play bowling balls. Maybe the thunder sounds like that to some people. Well, God bless you and keep you. Have a happy Easter, pursue all your endeavors, live out your dreams, write your books, and continue to call me and give me your suggestions, and give me your updates. And my love tonight to Andy in Montreal, and to Gary in Knoxville, and to Shirley in New York, and to Michael in Long Beach, and to many many others, all of you all over. I wish I could remember all of the names. Thank you for your calls, God love you, Happy Easter, Christ is Risen!"