The Consulting Analyst – The Vampire Lestat (Part 3)

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Previous

I’m hiding from the world for another week in the trashpire book. Which worked really well until the thinly veiled rape metaphor came up. So….heads up for that.

When last we left Gabrielle had come in to comfort Lestat about not being appreciated for killing the Definitely Real Wolves, and she kinda botched the landing by mentioning that “beeteedubs I’m dying, beloved son.” This does not convince Lestat to come out of his room and rejoin society, though eventually he is forced to come down and accept that red velvet wolf fur cloak I told you about last week. The villagers are just so impressed by how good he did with the wolves, y’see, that the village tailor made him this swank cloak and some nifty boots. More importantly, said tailor gave the gift of bringing his hot son along to present them.

But there was one startling young man among them I didn’t recognize immediately.

He was my age perhaps, and quite tall, and when our eyes met I remembered who he was. Nicolas de Lenfent, eldest son of the draper, who had been sent to school in Paris.

He was a vision now.

hes-hot
Even the wolves were like, “you MAKE that cloak, boy, damn.”

Go ahead and imagine this as the backing for that scene, and you’re right on target (although in the middle of describing how Nicolas has grown up hot Anne has to have his hair described as boyish because we CANNOT HAVE NICE THINGS, I GUESS). And then Lestat runs back to Gabrielle to tell her all about the handsome young man who came by, and Gabs is obliging enough to give us some backstory.

Nicolas, you see, is like Lestat in that his family shaped his life out of an attempt to make imitation aristocracy. While Lestat is shackled by his title and no prospects, bourgeois Nicki was educated and sent off to Paris to study law. Once he got there, he decided he’d rather be a violinist, sold all his books, and ran off to study with Mozart. And while he’s sort of fucked because he started learning at 20, Gabrielle – the only cultured soul in the village – admits that he’s pretty good.

“I heard him Sunday when I went to mass,” she said. “He was playing in the upstairs bedroom over the shop. Everyone could hear him, and his father was threatening to break his hands.”

I gave a little gasp at the cruelty of it. I was powerfully fascinated! I think I loved him already, doing what he wanted like that.

Don’t worry about the hands, that’s never gonna come up again. So Nicki’s the family outcast and lover of the arts, and Lestat is drawn to him immediately…but swears he can’t be bothered to go talk to him. Gabrielle, trying to nudge her son into having literally any positive relationships besides with her and his now-dead dogs, tells him he ought to go because his dad and brothers will just HATE it if he does, and also by-the-by he’s been to the Big Baguette and could probably tell you about it.

Gabrielle is very good at having a (nearly) teenage son.

So here’s how Lestat and Nicki’s first date goes. They meet under pretenses of formality for like five seconds; then Nicki’s all “hey, so how’d you kill all those wolves?” and Lestat’s like “tell me LITERALLY EVERYTHING about Paris,” and then they go up to a private room and proceed to get plastered while forming the kind of rapport unique to the very young and very drunk. And being young and drunk, Lestat lays one on his crush in their very first get together (COMPLETELY platonically, I’m sure, as these are of course very heterosexual books).

This scene gives us an excellent idea of their dynamic as they mean to go on, and while it’s quite dense with the air of college freshmen talking out their asses, it crackles with real energy and chemistry. Nicki’s a full on proto-hipster, sneering when he tells Lestat that yes, he’s seen the theaters in Paris and they’re not all that great, and really Paris is an awful shithole you don’t really wanna go. He’s bitter and cynical and knows absolutely everything.

Meanwhile, we’re given an encapsulation of the duality that is Lestat. Last week we discussed how he likes having people rely on him and enjoys the thrill of control that comes from that. At present, we are witnessing the side of Lestat that comes out in front of people he admires, people who can teach him something. He’s absolutely worshipful, willing to iron out all of their negative traits in his head because he just wants to be NEAR them and hear EVERYTHING they have to say and be acknowledged by them. You will be shocked to know this tendency gets him in trouble down the line. He vacillates between these two means of interacting, and as a vampire it’s not uncommon for someone to fall on and off his pedestal multiple times over the course of the relationship (which also manifests as the character’s need to find the next NEW SHINY BEST THING, but we’ll come to that in time).

Eventually, like most long talks fueled by mind-altering substances, the conversation comes around to a discussion of God.

Of course, it didn’t surprise me to hear that educated people didn’t believe in God, that they were infinitely more interested in science, that the aristocracy was much in ill favor, and so was the Church. These were times of reason, not superstition, and the more he talked the more I understood.

[…]

Real religion had long ago died out in our family, as it had perhaps in the families of thousands of aristocrats. Even at the monastery I had not believed in God. I had believed in the monks around me.

[…]

“But can men live without these beliefs?” Nicolas asked almost sadly. “Can children face the world without them?”

I was beginning to understand why he was so sarcastic and cynical. He had only recently lost that old faith. He was bitter about it.

jey-tvl
Jey continues to encapsulate this series perfectly

Hey, if you’re noticing a similarity between Nicki and Louis, you are not imagining it. But I guess I would be stealing the book’s thunder if I didn’t let it point out this tendency of “I am definitely, definitely trying to replace my ex” on its own. In the interim, there’s the fact that Anne’s admitted to writing Lestat as basically the ideal of an Enlightenment thinker: MUCH LOGIC, ALL SCIENCE, WE DO NOT NEED RELIGION ANYMORE. Or, with a bit more finesse, that the world can and should be understood through the study of observable things and our sense of the world comes from without (which iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis also why a lot of enlightenment thinkers believed in bolts of literal divine inspiration so OFF THAT HIGH HORSE YOU GO, Lestat).

Louis, meanwhile, is a capital-letter Romantic – a movement in direct response to the era of Enlightenment (I know we discussed this a bit during the Interview recaps, but it bears bringing up again now that we have a different narrator). Romantics rejected the notion that there was some empirical answer to be found purely in observation, turning instead to our interior lives. It’s not how things Objectively Are, it’s how we process them. How we FEEL about them, if one wanted to be uncharitable – hence Louis’ book long struggle over whether it can ever be justifiable to take a human life, and what that means for his identity.

And yet, both characters take a lot of joy in the beauty of art; Louis reads incessantly and spends whole nights just observing nature, and Lestat fervently declares here that music and acting are demonstrable acts of good in a world devoid of inherent meaning. It’s something of a tragedy within their relationship that they share very similar interests and yet completely oppositional philosophies (not to mention that Louis adores the natural while Lestat takes comfort in humanity’s works) in processing that information. At the same time, the fact that each school of thought reacts to the other keeps them linked and drawn together by their shared history. It’s moving and tempestuous and would be a lot more interesting if Anne hadn’t thrown that mutual give-and-take out the window later in favor of having Louis just relent and admit that of COURSE Lestat was right all along.

But we’re still back with Lestat’s first boyfriend, aren’t we. Can’t forget about that trainwreck. Nicki’s response to Lestat’s assertions that he believes in people rather than religion is to tell a very interesting little story, one that will become a motif going forward: apparently years ago the village priest took all the local kiddos up to a spot in the woods where they used to burn witches at the stake, and told them all the terrible stories about threats to their faith etc. etc.; seeing the spot, tiny little Lestat started screaming and crying uncontrollably out of empathy for the persecuted dead, and nobody could get him to be quiet until they brought Gabrielle down to fetch him (she was pissed about this anti-feminist bullshit, if you were wondering).

So here are our two Lestats: the angry victim who weaponizes his power over others as a way to combat his own feeling of helplessness and fear of abandonment, and the deeply empathetic idealist who is fiercely devoted to the point of deliberately ignoring anything that contradicts his chosen impression. You’ll notice that the shiny optimism here is not unlike how he describes 1980s New Orleans, which I suspect is meant to show that he’s maintained his innocent spirit over the centuries….except that here he’s 20, he’s drunk as fuck, and he didn’t have the ability to read people’s minds and thus compound the empathy he shows so strongly here ANNE YOU FUCKED IT UP. This all ties into the series’ case of Schrodinger’s worldbuilding, where it’s not clear exactly how much vampires are changed by their transformation and how much they can grow intellectually and emotionally while their bodies are in stasis (which itself is tied into how much in any given book Anne has decided to fetishize childishness/innocence/inexperience, and whether these traits are being deliberately commented on as part of written development or if we’ve jumped the track into bad-writing’s-ville; there are many factors to be had in being a fan of Rice).

At any rate, these two young kids from the French sticks (des batons, if you will) spend all night drinking and talking. By the end of it Lestat and the alcohol have apparently worked such magic that even Nicki is earnest and passionate (or so Lestat remembers it). And the next morning hangovers apparently ain’t shit, because Lestat’s right back at it again.

 I think he carried me home that night.

And the next morning I was standing in the crooked stone street in front of his father’s shop, tossing pebbles up at his window.

When he stuck his head out, I said:

“Do you want to come down and go on with our conversation?”

I presume that Lestat adores that scene in Say Anything, and am very tempted to say he’s remembering this after the fact because of his deep, established love of Shakespeare. Tres Romeo.

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But with more lace cuffs, and classism

And from then on, they’re basically inseparable. I really can’t tell you how unequivocally good “our conversation” is as terminology. I mean, I imagine the fact that Anne’s a straight cis woman writing when slash fic existed but was definitely kept underground might have something to do with why the physical aspects of their relationship is backgrounded (though they do kiss multiple times and explicitly share a bed once they live together), but in a broader sense it works in keeping with how Lestat might remember romantic relationships centuries later. Vampires don’t fuck, after all, so what’s stuck in his head is the beauty of how they understood each other, the profound intimacy of honesty and lips meeting – things applicable to him now as a vampire. And yes, things that would appeal to Louis. He’s writing this book intending for Louis to read it, remember?

We spend a while with Lestat describing his newfound bliss – he and Nicki go everywhere together, spend hours getting plastered, and have a “Golden Moment” where everything the other one says makes absolute sense and they’re finishing each other’s sandwiches (Lestat also remembers Nicki having a particularly notable red velvet frock coat, at which point the story of the Totally Real Wolves and his own red velvet cloak get just a liiiiiiiiiiiiiittle more suspicious).

Oh, and Nicki’s an asshole by the way, even if Lestat resolutely refuses to admit it.

“Now how could it not have been good,” I asked, “to give and receive such happiness? We brought to life that town when we put on our play. Magic, I tell you. It could heal the sick, it could.”

He shook his head. And I knew there were things he wanted to say which out of respect for me he was leaving to silence.

“You don’t understand, do you?” I asked.

“Lestat, sin always feels good,” he said gravely.

[…]

“Lestat, we’re partners in sin,” he said, smiling finally. “We’ve always been. We’ve both behaved badly, both been utterly disreputable. It’s what binds us together.”

zoidberg
In summary

Yeah, it’s exactly what you’re thinking. Lestat thinks Nicki hung the moon, absolutely adores him, and Nicki is dating Lestat to piss off his dad (this makes Lestat’s initial conversation with Gabrielle even more important as contrast, since Lestat ultimately goes NOT to make his father angry but to hear about Paris). And bless his heart, this baby blond idiot is too dumb to have so much as a clue.

There’s one more thing. A moment hugely important to Lestat’s worldview that needs setting out before we can carry on with the whole vampirism thing. Not long after Nicki declares that they’re a pair of dreadful sinners, Lestat decides that the only thing to do is to run away to Paris together. He declares that Nicki will play the violin, he’ll work in the theatres, and everything will be grand. Even Nicki is all about it (and Lestat still doesn’t get it, despite saying Nicki “[threw] in the word ‘spite’ every ten words or so”). And mid-drunken declaration Lestat is all YEAH, LET’S DO THIS! OTHERWISE WE’LL DIE AND OUR LIVES WILL HAVE BEEN MEANINGLESS!

And then those words kind of hit him all at once. And it scares the hell out of him.

I saw the universe, a vision of the sun, the planets, the stars, black night going on forever. And I began to laugh.

“Do you realize that! We’ll never know why the hell any of it happened, not even when it’s over!” I shouted at Nicolas, who was sitting back on the bed, nodding and drinking his wine out of a flagon. “We’re going to die and not even know. We’ll never know, and all this meaninglessness will just go on and on and on. And we won’t have even that little bit of power to give meaning to it in our minds. We’ll just be gone, dead, dead, dead, without ever knowing!”

[…]

I walked and talked and gestured like a contented human being, but I was flayed. I was shuddering. My teeth were chattering. I couldn’t stop it. I was staring at everything around me in horror. The darkness terrified me. The sight of the old suits of armor in the hall terrified me. I stared at the mace and flail I’d taken out after the wolves. I stared at the faces of my brothers. I stared at everything, seeing behind every configuration of color and light and shadow the same thing: death.

If Interview managed to tap into a raw, real depiction of numbing depression, its companion here is in a real as fuck depiction of anxiety. Even in the years when I didn’t think of these books much, this section has always stayed with me. On the one hand, it’s incredibly specific: Anne’s background in Catholicism is showing itself again here, with Lestat going through what’s called the “dark night of the soul” (which I suspect is on purpose; the poem from which the term originates is ripe with homoerotic undertones like you would not believe) – a period of profound bleakness and disconnection from faith. It is, I suspect, quite relatable to anyone raised in a Judeo-Christian or monotheistic faith only to wind up disillusioned or questioning. A sudden and utter terror that perhaps the world is not as you comfortably assumed it after all – not even believed, but just took for granted without thinking.

Basically, he starts out saying he’s here only to one day realize he’s actually here.

But more broadly than that, it is maybe the most evocative depiction of a debilitating panic attack I’ve read: the constant physical strain just under the surface, the distress from ordinary everyday stimuli, the constant recurring obsessive thoughts, crying for things you can’t really explain and frustrating people who think that you should be talked down by the logic of why you shouldn’t be scared, the utter exhaustion of it. It’s hellishly familiar.

Even Nicolas is moved to try and help, taking Lestat out to the witch’s place and playing for him on the violin. And it helps, in a way. Lestat gets better at hiding his now-constant existential dread.

You couldn’t understand anything; and you couldn’t change anything. But you could make music like that.

[…]

At least we had these beautiful things, I said. Such goodness.

But nothing natural seemed beautiful to me now! The very sight of a great tree standing alone in a field could make me tremble and cry out. Fill the orchard with music.

And let me tell you a little secret. It never did pass, really.

I can’t tell you, readers, how often I’ve remembered that line in the dead of night. But it does explain Lestat’s demands for a fancy apartment and nice clothes and constant trips to the theaters, doesn’t it? Later on there’s even a definitely deliberate echo of phrasing where Lestat describes “dragging [Nicolas] to every opera, ballet, and drama in town.”

In the midst of all this, Gabrielle comes in again to give Lestat another nudge. She pulls out all the money she has left and tells him she wants him to use it to get to Paris with Nicolas, because she’s scared of dying and at least wants to know the son she actually gives a shit about is happy when the time comes. Lestat keeps noticing that her hair is going grey and freaking out about the nature of mortality. And then comes a really weird moment where she tells him that she’s been living through him vicariously.

She talked for a long time. She said things I didn’t understand then, about how when she would see me riding out to the hunt, she felt some wondrous pleasure in it, and she felt that same pleasure when I angered everyone and thundered my questions at my father and brothers as to why we had to live the way we lived. She spoke in an almost eerie way of my being a secret part of her anatomy, of my being the organ for her which women do not really have.

“You are the man in me,” she said.

PENIS ENVY IS NOT A REAL THING, ANNE.

stahp
MY HEAD IS THIS CLOSE TO EXPLODING 

Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooof, okay. I just. Spoiler alert children, Gabrielle eventually takes on masculine presentation pretty much as soon as she gets the chance. She is a beautiful genderqueer force long before that word was ever coined, and I will take that kernel of good and hold tight to it while wrenching it free from the slightly gross implications of “any woman who is really strong and interesting must be/want to be more like a man.”

This is also, I suspect, tied into Anne’s multiple statements that she sees Lestat as HER male alter ego. Which, on the one hand was very very cool for tiny teenager Vrai in ways they did not yet understand; and on the other hand, Anne’s understanding of gender as present in her works isn’t, like, the most awesome.

Moving on, we need to move on. Sufficiently moved by his mom’s stirring statement of “listen you little shit, I brought you into this world and you will do this for me before I leave it,” Lestat runs off to Nicki and says they’re leaving that very day to pursue their dreams. And lo and behold, they do it. They get a shithole apartment in Paris, Lestat gets a job working as a gopher in a Boulevard theater, and Nicki is playing in the orchestra pit at the same. And bless his heart, Lestat writes home to his mom about every bit of it.

Well…he gets someone to write for him, anyway. The fact that Lestat can barely read and write (implicitly what he learned at the monastery has by this time decayed) comes up a lot during this section, with an inability to express himself as the new thing holding Lestat in a grip of powerlessness. He wants to describe the wonders of Paris to Gabrielle in detail, but all he can do is describe it as best he can to a scribe and hope that they can be bothered to take down the entirety of his effusiveness. Once he finally gets his big break at the theater, he can’t read reviews mentioning him and has to trust other people that he’s being complimented; he can’t even learn his lines without Nicki reading them out to him. It’s played off every time Lestat mentions it directly, but there’s also an undercurrent of frustration to his inability to communicate using anything other than his body (meanwhile, both of the most important people in his life can read and write, but won’t or can’t teach him).

His body’s pretty front and center, too – reviews describe him as “the handsome blond,” and his talent on the stage is far more for physical comedy and improvisation than for straight dramas (which the novel takes a historical detour to tell us wouldn’t have been properly allowed anyway, since these weren’t really state-sanctioned theaters). More than that, he’s sure he can feel some horrific, waxy face watching him from the audience every night.

Things aren’t so happy at home. Lestat’s appearing on playbills and getting regular work as an actor, but Nicki’s unhappy with his role down in the pit, even if he does get to play a solo about every night. He swears he isn’t jealous, just sad, because he started his craft too late in life and will probably never be able to learn all he needs to be a great violinist. So naturally he takes it out on Lestat in the most underhanded way because, as we’ve established, he’s a fucking asshole.

“Yes,” I said. “All you can do is make your life have meaning, make it good—”

“Oh, not goodness again,” he said. “You and your malady of mortality, and your malady of goodness.” He had been looking at the fire and he turned to me with a deliberately scornful expression. “We’re a pack of actors and entertainers who can’t even be buried in consecrated ground. We’re outcasts.”

“God, if you could only believe in it,” I said, “that we do good when we make others forget their sorrow, make them forget for a little while that…”

“What? That they are going to die?” He smile in a particularly vicious way.

A moment of fairness to Nicki, before I am once more overcome with the urge to beat his skull against something sharp: of course he’s bitter. He found something he truly and passionately loves, but because of forces outside his control he’ll never be able to truly become a master at it (and he does admit that he’s jealous of Lestat’s ambition and seemingly charmed ability to get anything he strives for, while Nicki continually fails at his own standards). He’s had his own crisis of faith, and he’s taken it badly. There are reasons for this young man to be angry at the world.

What’s not okay is that he turns around and plays passive aggressive in taking this out on Lestat, someone he can snipe at and know that Lestat won’t leave him or probably even call him on it. Because Lestat thinks of his loved ones as people who can do no wrong, and will bend over backward to make excuses for them. So he makes Lestat his emotional punching bag when he’s feeling angry and upset, because he can (and meanwhile, his rich college friends are coming around and sneering down their noses at working class Lestat, and Nicolas doesn’t say boo to them about it).

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A rare photo of Nicolas de Lenfent

Finally, Lestat confesses that he’s scared someone’s been stalking him, but Nicolas waves it off and tells him to come to bed.

This is….not a GREAT plan.

It’s also the end of the first section, but we’re going to push on a little bit further. Because literally the page after Nicki says EVERYTHING’S FINE, a vampire comes in through the window and kidnaps Lestat. Full on sweeps him up in his fancy cloak like he’s a kitten in a sack and carries him off. As far as we know, Nicki doesn’t even wake UP.

The vampire bites Lestat to keep him quiet, and the experience our narrator describes is quite different from Louis’. While the swoon in Interview was a very physical thing, an intense awareness of the body, Lestat’s description is of a dreamlike hallucination, the sight of every bit of validation he’s ever wanted. It’s separation from his body and exaltation of the mind.

Rapture. I said the word, and it seemed clear to me, that one word, though I couldn’t speak or really move my lips.

[…]

My mother smiled at me. And I said “I love you…” to her, and she said, “Yes, always loved, always loved…”And I was sitting in the monastery library and I was twelve years old and the monk said to me, “A great scholar,” and I opened all the books and could read everything, Latin, Greek, French. The illuminated letters were indescribably beautiful, and I turned around and faced the audience in Renaud’s theater and saw all of them on their feet, and a woman moved the painted fan in front of her face, and it was Marie Antoinette. She said, “Wolfkiller,” and Nicolas was running toward me, crying for me to come back.

And then things become the actual worst. Lestat wakes up in the vampire’s tower – his name is Magnus, by the way, the section title spoils it so I don’t feel too bad jumping the gun a little – and naturally he’s not feeling great since he’s lost a fuckton of blood. He’s been dreaming about cold white wine, and Magnus has obligingly left some out on the table exactly as Lestat envisioned it. Of course the poor kid drinks almost the entire bottle, and then Magnus brings out another bottle, and when Lestat doesn’t want any more…all of a sudden he finds he’s indescribably thirsty again and can’t stop himself from drinking it. At which point he is very drunk and not well-equipped to fight. Which, we know Magnus can subdue Lestat even when he’s fully sober, so this is purely to fuck with him.

It’s going exactly where you think it’s going.

He advanced on me.

I didn’t cry out. I gave a low roar of angry terror and scrambled up off the bed, tripping over the small table and running from him as fast as I could.

But he caught me in long white fingers that were as powerful and as cold as they had been the night before.

[…]

He lifted his hands and stroked my hair as I cringed.

“Sunlight in your hair,” he whispered, “and the blue sky fixed forever in your eyes.” He seemed almost meditative as he looked at me.

[…]

I shuddered. I felt myself dropping to the floor.

But he picked me up easily with one arm and laid me down gently on the bed.

[…]

And his limbs, why did they so horrify me? He looked like a human, but he didn’t move like a human. It didn’t seem to matter to him whether he walked or crawled, bent over or knelt. It filled me with loathing. Yet he fascinated me. I had to admit it. He fascinated me. But I was in too much danger to allow such a strange state of mind.

He gave a deep laugh now, his knees wide apart, his fingers resting on my cheek as he made a great arc over me.

“Yeeeeees, lovely one, I’m hard to look at!” he said. His voice was still a whisper and he spoke in long gasps. “I was old when I was made. And you’re prefect, my Lelio, my blue-eyed young one, more beautiful even without the lights of the stage.”

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NOPE. CAN’T. CAN’T WITH THIS, NOPE
SOMEONE HELP THIS BOY

Magnus tells Lestat he’s been chosen, and waits in a sadistic sort of amusement while Lestat prays for God and all the angels and saints to get him out of this situation. And then Magnus bites him, completing our horrible rape metaphor.

“Damn you, damn you, damn you!” I was roaring and bellowing. And he drew closer and the teeth went through my flesh.

Not this time, I was raging, not this time. I will not feel it. I will resist. I will fight for my soul this time.

But it was happening again.

I pulled out this specific quote because it feels like the point where this scene goes above and beyond in resembling a bodice-ripper (and remember, Anne’d written more than a few books of erotica featuring non-consensual sex by this point). Heroines in Harlequin and other ‘bodice-ripper” romance novels weren’t allowed to actively pursue sex, you see. They had to be forced, to try as hard as they could to resist. And then once they were already ruined, it was alright to carry on having sex from there, because they’d TRIED to stay good girls. And the fact that they orgasmed – as is going on metaphorically here – means that they must have secretly wanted it all along. Chalk it up to another way in which the 80s were completely fucked.

Magnus drains Lestat to the point of death, as it goes, and tells Lestat that he has to ask for eternal life. This is clearly posturing, though, because when Lestat refuses Magnus pours the blood down his throat anyway. And poor, poor Lestat…

My mouth widened, pressed harder to him. I felt the blood coursing down the length of my throat. I felt his head against me. I felt the tight enclosure of his arms.

I was against him and I could feel his sinews, his bones, the very contour of his hands. I knew his body. And yet there was this numbness creeping through me and a rapturous tingling as each sensation penetrated the numbness, and was amplified in the penetration so that it became fuller, keener, and I could almost see what I felt.

[…]

Love you, I wanted to say, Magnus, my unearthly master, ghastly thing that you are, love you, love you, this was what I had always so wanted, wanted, and could never have, this, and you’ve given it to me!

I felt I would die if it went on, and on it did go, and I did not die.

But quite suddenly I felt his gentle loving hands caressing my shoulders and with his incalculable strength, he forced me backwards.

I let out a long mournful cry. Its misery alarmed me. but he was pulling me to my feet. He still held me in his arms.

From the point at which Lestat starts drinking its written as a straightforward sort of erotic scene. Except that we know Lestat said “no” right up to the moment, and we know that his entire mind is altered by the effects of vampiric blood. And we know, from the wine, that Magnus can go into his head and force him to want things.

someone-help-him
uuuuaghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

This poor boy is being raped and murdered and then psychically warped into thinking that he wants it. The complete about-face in descriptors (from calling Magnus fascinating but horrifying to loving, strong, etc) is H O R R I F I C. He’s completely bespelled, so under it that the narration can only acknowledge it by contrast (and the fact that we know later in his unlife, Lestat will be absolutely adamant about the matter of “choice”).

So our boy is a vampire now, kidnapped and turned against his will. There’s a little more to be said with Magnus, but  this recap has gotten quite lengthy, and I need to go mourn this sad, sweet, dumb child for a little bit.

NEXT TIME: Vampin’ ain’t easy, particularly when you have no idea what you’re doing

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14 comments on “The Consulting Analyst – The Vampire Lestat (Part 3)

  1. lightice25 says:

    It’s been 15 years since I read this book, but I’m fairly certain that the wolves had to be real that the villagers could make a coat out of their skins. I don’t know if it means that Rice intended Lestat’s fight with them to be a case of unreliable narrator or not, but he certainly went home with a bunch of pelts.

    • lightice25 says:

      And sorry about my first comment on these recaps being a nitpick, by the way. To me the Vampire Chronicles were something I read as a teenager and then forgot about, so I don’t have all that many feelings or thoughts about them to share. Reading these has been an interesting blast from the past, if nothing else, and I always love your detailed yet lighthearted literary commentary even when the subject matter isn’t my absolute favourite.

    • Vrai Kaiser says:

      My contention is that everything about the wolves and that cloak is a fiction — it’s just too neat, in a way that screams of Lestat making the story pat for an audience, as he’d be wont to do as a performer. He certainly might’ve HAD a fur cloak – he seemed to trap as well as hunt, after all.

  2. Jordan says:

    You’re completely right that Nicolas is a dick but I can never help but feel like, SUPER sorry for him at the same time. The dude is clearly powerfully depressed aaaaand also it’s hard not to attribute a lot of his bitterness and lashing out at Lestat to internalized homophobia tbh, especially with all his talk of ~~sin~~ and having not made a clean break with religion and all.

    He just reads like a miserable little fuck who’s deeply self hating and in a lot of pain and too immature to like, manage it or stop himself from being nasty to his boyfriend for the crimes of: not being depressed, being in the vicinity, being a sweetheart but kind of a ditz, and/or if I read my subtext correctly, Making Him Gay. It’s a disaster but I mostly end up just like, please god get this Shit Boy on some SSRIs.

    • Vrai Kaiser says:

      I tend to lose a lot of sympathy for him in wake of the later revelation re: WE WERE SUPPOSED TO DIE HORRIBLY IN THE STREETS IN ORDER TO STICK IT TO MY PARENTS, HOW COULD YOU FUCK THIS UP
      Maybe it’s just because he does the majority of his horrible rap sheet as a mortal as opposed to the rest of the vampire fuckups

      • Jordan says:

        Yeah I guess I’m sort of inclined to believe that wasn’t like, the literal truth so much as the nastiest thing he could think of to say in the middle of a supernaturally induced mental breakdown. Like maybe that was something he wished would happen in dark moments as opposed to like, literally the entire time he had Designs to commit gradual suicide and take his boyfriend down with him.

        Which doesn’t excuse “I hope you die I hope we both die” as like an acceptable thing to say during a breakup, I just read it as more lashing out from a place of pain. Idk. He’s a garbagefire but it seems like it sucked to be him a lot lol. Life as a garbagefire looks miserable.

  3. Meg says:

    I couldn’t wait for you to discuss this part because the dark moments Lestat has are probably some of the most realistic depiction of anxiety I’ve ever seen. You did not disappoint! 😀

    I read TVL when I was 14, & I remember seeing what I felt so painfully laid bare by a character and I was like, yes this gets it. That turmoil and despair and world-changing darkness of anxiety. I would venture Lestat derealizes a lot during this time? I think because my own reaction to anxiety since childhood was to derealize and it looks very much like this, especially things seeming “different” after the immediate panic attack is over.

    The entire part about that existential darkness, though (and the “it never did pass” line) stuck with me just like it did you. I remembered it long after I stopped being actively into the books. It was too hauntingly real.

    • Vrai Kaiser says:

      THE MOST REAL.
      I think it ties into how much Lestat tries to recast himself as the hero (at least when he WAS doing that, as opposed to the later books where he’s just godmoding all over the place), as a way of feeling in control. Helplessness is so central to his character, the anxiety included. Which manifests in some harmless ways, a few helpful ones (the need to save people, before PL came along and he just couldn’t be bothered apparently), and some big whoppin harmful ones (YOUR CONTROLLING BULLSHIT RUINED YOUR MARRIAGE, LESTAT).
      Solidarity five, my dude.

  4. VAPENICO420 says:

    The dark moment happened because Lestat realized gods were actually alien birds

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