Hello to Salon from the foggy, cold streets of San Francisco.
At night I stood in my window and looked out at the deep sloped streets and the hundreds of bay windows, remembering back 30 years to my arrival in this city … a young democrat, a young idealist, a wannabe great person. And now I return to appear at City Arts and Lectures, and to visit one of my favorite bookstores in the country: the unique Dark Carnival in Berkeley.
Well, the days have been chilly, with that severe cold that one can only find in San Francisco. But there has been a great rush of happy memories, and as always, the San Francisco and Berkeley crowds are filled with young and passionate students, writers and artists. I try very hard to feel love for this city, but what I feel more than anything is gratitude. I feel gratitude for those 25 or 30 years during which I learned that political activism could mean something, that I could be a real writer and a real pornographer, and I could, like so many other people in California, redefine my life in terms of my highest values.
But it disturbs me, this strange lack of love for a place where so many good things happened. I know it is the Southerner in me that shivers at this chill wind off the Pacific. I know it is the Southerner in me that dreams of the oak trees of home in these barren hills. Nevertheless, San Francisco is unique—a generation of ideas, an academy of nonconformity—and the visit has brought many splendid moments.
In spite of a very busy schedule, I managed to watch the second Clinton/Dole debate. At times my anger toward Senator Dole knew no bounds. When the Commander in Chief does not do what you want him to do while in office, that does not mean that the Commander in Chief is AWOL. Dole’s insults were despicable. And it was heartwarming to see Clinton’s grace under fire. I suspect the race is over, but it is terribly important that every one of us Democrats votes because we have a real chance this time to take back the House of Representatives. So, remember—even if you think Clinton is a shoo-in, go out and vote for Democratic congressmen on the ticket. President Clinton probably will be seen by history as one of the most exciting presidents that we’ve had.
Meantime I continue to receive wonderful responses to my books, and am amazed to discover that some people are only just now finding “Servant of the Bones,” though it was published August 1st.
Once again, it is impossible to describe an average Anne Rice reader—there is no such being. It can be a lady of 80 years of age with cream ruffles at the neck of her burgundy jacket, or a 12-year-old child with Coke-bottle glasses. It can be a gay person, a businessman, a psychic or a priest.
Highlights of the San Francisco visit include being onstage at City Arts and Lectures with my beloved friend and colleague Mike Riley, and also seeing that nothing in this modern world—not computers, not vacuum cleaners, not the Internet, not changing social mores—can change the ambiance of Dark Carnival! Jack and Jay, the owners of the store, remain their incorruptible selves through thick and thin. The bookstore is a real place, an unforgettable place—a shelter on the road of life.
At City Arts and Lectures in San Francisco, surrounded by the venerable murals and chandeliers of the Herbst Theater, I declared frankly that I was proud to be a pornographer and the audience applauded. I am blessed to be both a religious writer and a social scandal.
Of course we are having fun, even without the bus on which we traveled on the East Coast. I can’t say sitting on the floor of an airport is as much fun as bouncing along in a bus, watching Antonio Banderas shoot guns with two hands on TV, but it is wonderful to be back on the road and to see my readers.
One final exquisite note: In both Sacramento and in Berkeley, we had the great honor of meeting a sublimely beautiful child … a toddling little boy with an irrepressible smile and blonde hair whose name, we are proud to say, is “Eric Christopher Lestat.” Though we’ve met many cats and dogs named “Lestat,” only now are we beginning to meet children of proud parents with Lestat’s name. We were deeply honored and this little boy seemed surrounded by a golden light. What a paradox—Lestat the Vampire is my moral hero and I get to hold this beautiful baby in my arms. It is the end result of writing about good and evil, salvation and damnation, sensuality and virtue.
I’m confused. I’m tired. We’re going to Los Angeles. The airport is crowded and I want to start walking, but it is too cold. I will be live on the Late, Late Show with Tom Snyder tonight. I look forward to it and I hope I have a chance to talk politics as well as fiction.
Keep sending your responses to Servant of the Bones and keep telling me how you feel about Azriel, my new angelic spirit hero.