Did Anne Rice Hire a Ghostwriter?
Why passages in The Tale of the Body Thief just don't add up.
Ugh, I hate when I accidentally slip out of my body and go into a vampire's body. But Lestat lets a human, James, do just that in The Tale of the Body Thief cause he's bored being the most powerful vampire. As many rappers remind us, it sure gets lonely at the top.
In Anne Rice's 1992 novel The Tale of the Body Thief, the sixth volume in
The Vampire Chronicles (originally the fourth), Lestat is offered the
chance to switch bodies with a human, James, who's a little above
common pond scum, but not by much. Lestat approaches his most
trusted friends about it, Louis and David, and they're both like, "Dude,
don't do it. This guy is a liar, a thief, and he'skind of a dick." Lestat's like,
"Nah, bros, I think everything will be fine, and besides, I'm bored and
suicidal." Guess what? Everything's not fine and Lestat soon realizes
that James never intends to give his awesome vampire bod back.
It seems to me Anne Rice split The Tale of the Body Thief into three
discernible parts: the miserable first third of the book where I seriously
questioned my sanity for continuing to read the book, the second third
where I fell in love again with Anne Rice's beautiful prose and loveably
broken characters, and the final third that satisfied the veracious
reader in me. Without giving too much away, the scenes with Gretchen
were divine, and so private that you feel like you're intruding.
But one thing bothered to me to no end: I don't think Anne Rice wrote this book. At least not completely.
For readers who have read the first few books in the series, this seems like a perfect example of Anne's unmistakable poetic vernacular:
"Mindless and endlessly vigorous is the cycle of hunger and satiation, of violent and painful death. Reptiles with eyes as hard and shining as opals feast eternally upon the writhing universe of stiff and crackling insects as they have since the days when no warm-blooded creature ever walked the earth... There is no mercy in this forest. No mercy, no justice, no worshipful appreciation of its beauty, no soft cry of joy at the beauty of the falling rain. Even the sagacious little monkey is a moral idiot at heart."
For the most part, Lestat questions only himself in the narrative. He poses questions to himself and unravels answers. However, in the first part of the book and near the end of the book, Lestat breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the reader. He also uses short, choppier sentences that aren't like his classical way of speaking.
The Vampire Lestat here. I have a story to tell you. It's about something that happened to me. It begins in Miami, in the year 1990, and I really want to start right there... What good was it to have full and beautiful blond hair, sharp blue eyes, razzle-dazzle cloths, an irresistible smile, and a well-proportioned body six feet in height that can, in spite of its two hundred years, pass for that of a twenty-year-old mortal."
Razzle-dazzle??? Seriously, Anne Rice? Are you drunk? This doesn't sound like you. All razzle-dazzles aside, you don't usually have Lestat describe his physical looks, and your descriptions are never so bland.
But wait, there's (unfortunately) more.
Did you think the story was finished? That the fourth installment of the Vampire Chronicles had come to a close? Well, the book should be ended. It really should have ended when I lit that small candle, but it didn't. I realized that the following night when I first opened my eyes. Pray continue to Chapter Thirty-three to discover what happened next. Or you can quit now, if you like. You may come to wish that you had."
There are two dead-give-aways in that last section that point to a ghostwriter. First, the use of "really." Anne steers clear of irrelevant and redundant words such as "really," "even," "right," or "just." On page one, "I really want to start right there," is so uncharacteristic of Anne that it hurts. The unnecessary words of "really" and "right" are not her style, and not even Lestat's vernacular. Speaking of, my second point is exactly that: this is not Lestat's vernacular as Anne Rice writes it. In the above examples, there is a modernity to the vernacular that Lestat doesn't embrace in the rest of this novel. Here's a sample of his usual speech.
"For the love of God! ... I'm Lestat. I'm Lestat in this body! Couldn't you have given me a chance to speak? Do you kill any hapless mortal who blunders into your little house? What of the ancient laws of hospitality, you bloody fool! Why the hell don't you put iron bars on your doors!"
Anne typically has Lestat use plenty of big words and speak in longer sentences, as you see in the example above. So what are those pesky little lines, although few and far between, that are so obviously not Anne Rice's style?
Someone else's writing.
It's not uncommon for a writer to use a ghostwriter when he or she is going through an emotionally turbulent time, physical difficulties, feelings of burn out, or can't keep up with the demands of his/her own popularity. A popular writer is expected to attend conferences, book signings/tours and interviews, write the next bestseller in less than a year, and also take care of personal matters. It's a helluva job. This is where giving a detailed outline to a professional ghostwriter can greatly lighten the load. If the ghostwriter did his/her job very well, 99% of readers will be none-the-wiser.
When the ghostwriter does a poor, hasty job, it results in what I've pointed out in The Tale of the Body Thief.
Part of me thinks it's an editor's doing. In the example of page 411, a cheap ploy to get people to keep reading (for some reason they thought you wouldn't finish the last 30 pages), or market to those who picked up The Tale of the Body Thief on a whim, and to hastily explain what came before, like on page 1.
But one thing is certain, if Anne was asked to explain a bit in the beginning about who Lestat was, she would certainly write it better than that. And if her publisher asked her to break the fourth wall, she would certainly do it better than that. Whoever did write those sections owe Anne a big freaking apology. Because they were really fucking dreadful.