Our library has the most charming annex, The Pond House, where used books and an assortment of other used library materials are sold at ridiculously low prices. After visiting the annual book sale, I suggested we drop in to see what was on hand at The Pond House.
That day there was a plethora of memoirs for $1-$2, and I picked up several. Among them was Anne Rice’s memoir, Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession.
Rice’s story chronicles her life in and out of the Catholic church from her childhood in New Orleans to the writing of her memoir in 2008.
The beauty of the church building where her family attended Mass and the words she heard in the liturgy fascinated Rice as a young girl.
So fascinated she, Anne Rice at age 12, announced to her parish priest her wish to be a priest. Not only did Fr. Steffen attempt to make short work of his explanation to her by stating only boys could become priests, he told Anne that there had been a time when theologians were not sure if women had souls. Anne never forgot his words, even though she thought later he may have mumbled to himself.
Fleeting thoughts toyed with becoming a nun, but this too quickly dissipated as something Rice felt unsuited to explore.
Fast forward to the 1960s and college and yes, the Vietnam War and the hippie generation. Anne finds herself confronted by many mindsets: some opposed to religion, some starting up new belief systems in or out of the church, drug use, diametrically opposed political views on everything, and the war in Vietnam rages. All in all, a confusing time.
During this time, Anne meets, falls in love with and marries her husband, Stan. And together, they begin a home and later a family.
As a result of the antithesis of her childhood faith and life as a young adult, Anne moves away from the church and God. She declares herself an atheist. Her descriptions of her feelings during this time are highly emotional, fraught with darkness, a strong belief in the rightness of it, and yet an unidentified longing that persists.
Through several years of writing her graphic Gothic novels, she is highly successful but not completely happy. It is during one of her darkest times that she comes to the realization that she might not have agreed with the church, but she never stopped loving God and wanting Him in her life.
Here begins her call out of the darkness and on a new and reviving journey. Rice has told the story that many of us living through the 1960s and 1970s could probably share. However, hers is rich in Catholic tradition and steeped in the history of New Orleans, a city strongly populated with Catholics. A tale of growing disenchanted seems not so unexpected.
The turning and transformation in her life is unexpected as she commits to giving up the genre of writing that has made her so successful.
I will leave my review here for if you have not read Anne Rice’s memoir, I do not want to spoil its richness by giving away too much. It is a book I shall read again and perhaps again with as much interest and joy as my first read brought.
One of America’s most read and celebrated authors, Anne Rice is known for weaving the visible and supernatural worlds together in epic stories that both entertain and challenge readers. Her books are rich tapestries of history, belief, philosophy, religion, and compelling characters that examine and extend our physical world beyond the limits we perceive.
Anne lives and works in California. Anne’s life experiences and intellectual inquisitiveness provide her with constant inspiration for her work. Links to Anne Rice: On Facebook, On YouTube, On Knopf Publishers.