I was looking through Blood and Gold, another Anne Rice vampire book, for bits about another female vampire I like, who is of course swiftly killed and her girlfriend isn't mad at all and hooks up with one of the protags who does it, and...I knew it was the story of Marius, and told in first-person, like all her novels. What I didn't realize is that, like Blackwood Farm, it's him telling a story to another person. Come to think of it, I think her book Servant of the Bones (not a vampire or witch book, I think it predates them) is as well. She really needs to find a framing device more suited to her style. That said, a friend pointed out that this is a common trope in Gothic fiction, such as Frankenstein. I think I tend to be more critical of things written in the modern era and give older things a pass because they're "classic" in my mind.
I also just want to remind everybody that this story is set in New Orleans, but that only non-white characters are the black staff who work for the wealthy white family of the main character. Who work FOR FREE for this wealthy white family out on their OLD SOUTHERN MANOR just because they enjoy it so much. And do not get to actually live in this manor themselves, but a bungalow on the grounds which is filled with secondhand no-longer-wanted furniture from the manor once the white folks are done with it. And these people are supposedly so "rich" they don't have to work, it's just they LOVE it so much that their entire aspiration in life seems to be serving these white people, to the point they will live on these manor grounds (but again, not in the manor itself with the white family) miles away from anyone else. And they may be "rich" but still use the secondhand furniture and wear secondhand clothing from their white employers.
And this is all presented as being hunky-dory, and that's apparently not something Anne Rice thought was problematic for a second. And this woman, mind you, considers herself an enlightened liberal progressive person.
Oh yeah, and the oldest son/heir of this family is sleeping with one of the staff members sexually, because that sure doesn't conjure up any shitty historical abuses of black slaves and servant women by male masters (though it is iffy on her part too given their age gap, Quinn being a teenager, and the fact she'd have literally helped raise him from infancy) and sleeps literally with an elderly staff member as a sort of stuffed animal or bed warmer (which would be bizarre even without the racial issues, srsly wtf is up with this). This goes on into his teenage years, and is currently still going on at the age of eighteen, and when the elderly woman dies, he tells the next eldest woman on staff to take her place, which she does, because black women are just interchangeable furniture I suppose.
None of this is relevant to the following chapter, I just wanted to note it all again because god it still just blows my mind, and it blows my mind even more I've never seen this discussed or called out EVER.
For the record, I don't think there's any problem writing about bad things, or things you would not want to happen in real life. Heck, I think EVERY story, by nature of the need for conflict, involves something that one wouldn't wish to happen for real, even if it's only an inconvenience. And I also can't support the idea that every protagonist needs to be wholly unproblematic in their views; that's unrealistic and ridiculous for a number of reasons, and I think it actually does more harm than good (promoting the idea that "good" people will just automatically be enlightened and progressive on everything by default) That said, I do think there is a problem when bigoted actions and views are presented utterly uncritically and even positively by the writer, and WHY that is. Like I do not like the idea that the mere presence or acknowledgement of any real-world bigotry or toxicity must be scrubbed from fiction entirely, but I also feel there's got to be a line where you ask "why the fuck are they writing it this way?"
(As a note, this is exempting works like bodice rippers, which are SUPPOSED to be utter fantasies which are largely written BY AND FOR the demographic (women) who would be victimized by those same behaviors in real life. Anyone who knows a thing about the genre knows when they pick it up that this a fantasy made for women who enjoy that, and in no way indicates the writer or reader wants/supports these behaviors in real life. There's just that implicit understanding. I'm talking about works that do not have that implicit understanding, and more like works that, say, would present these dynamics as a realistic healthy real-world romance.)
Anyway, now that I've reminded everybody of the absurd racism going on, we're going to get an entirely DIFFERENT variety of bigoted problematic grossness in...
BLACKWOOD FARM, CHAPTER 32( Read more... )