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A Density of Souls Paperback – August 22, 2001

4.0 out of 5 stars 489 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Take the sensuous, fecund New Orleans setting, add a generous helping of tangled Southern family history, and season liberally with a sensitive teenage boy rejected by his friends and frightened of his own homoerotic impulses and you wouldn't be surprised to discover that the novel containing all of the above was written by someone named Rice. But a few paragraphs into the first page, it's clear that Anne Rice's son's first novel isn't about vampires or witches and does not otherwise read like one of her exceedingly popular books. The only family resemblance is in the setting, the sexual orientation of the lovingly described male characters, and the scent of overripe magnolias.

There's murder, suicide, and madness at the heart of this rather clumsy coming-of-age story, which focuses on the youthful friendship of Stephen Conlin, Meredith Ducote, Greg Darby, and Brandon Charbonnet. This friendship is destroyed by a sexual incident that takes place just before the foursome enters Cannon, an exclusive prep school. There, Stephen is ostracized by his former friends, now the most popular kids on campus, who'd just as soon forget their own complicity in the event. Envy, passion, and rage drive the narrative, but the emotions are as juvenile as the characters, and the long passages depicting the rituals and cruelties of high school, from pep rallies to football games, slow down the pace without really illuminating character or motivation. The novel reads like a roman à clef. Rice might have been wiser to tell someone else's story rather than his own. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Chronicling the lives of four tormented youths, 21-year-old author Rice's earnestly overwritten debut novel flails wildly and suffers from an identity crisis as awkward and vivid as that of his soul-seared characters. Yet the book offers an intriguing, complex story, a hard-nosed, lyrical, teenage take on Peyton Place set in contemporary New Orleans. The tangle of a plot grows weedlike when former childhood friends enter high school and find their loyalties have dramatically shifted. Popular, budding bulimic Meredith Ducote is a closet alcoholic whose diaries brim with morose aphorisms on her wretched life; Greg Darby and Brandon Charbonnet are boisterously homophobic high school jocks; and Stephen Conlin, whose father committed suicide, is the sensitive homosexual boy who quickly becomes the victim of cruelty and derision from the school's popular crowd, led by Greg and Brandon. But the two bullies are covering up a painful childhood secret in their persecution of Stephen, a secret Meredith knows. Before the novel reveals this secret during the overwrought climax set during a devastating hurricane, one character dies, another has an emotional breakdown, a parent is institutionalized, a gay bar is bombed by a militant hate group, a concealed paternity is discovered and several families are broken up. Rice is sensitive to the emotional undercurrents that compel teenagers to both mask and wallow in their intense feeling, but the atmosphere of juvenile angst that pervades the novel is as gluey and suffocating as a hot summer on the bayou. 20-city author tour. (Aug.) doubt is why the name "Rice" dominates the book's jacket.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax; Reprint edition (August 22, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786886463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786886463
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (489 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,725,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Remember how you felt the first time you read "Interview With The Vampire"? Remember how you were torn between staying up all night to finish it, or savoring it slowly so you would have those wonderful characters and images in your head for as long as possible? That's what I remember reading Anne Rice's book for the first time all those years ago. There have been few books since then that have drawn me in so completely, and how wonderful that the latest one to do that was written by Anne's son, Christopher.
"Unsuspecting" customers will see the gothic cover and the huge RICE name on the jacket and think they are getting a supernatural thriller along the lines of Mama Rice. At first, it seems like that is the case--and there are touches of it in the novel--but these bits of otherworldly business are just some of the many New Orleans touches that make THE CITY as much a character as the four lead characters. Stephen, Brandon, Meredith and Greg are a close group of friends until a shared incident occurs just prior to them entering high school. While the other three become popular, Stephen is hounded and is made miserable simply because he is, in the teenage world, something worse than vampire, witch or werewolf: a homosexual.
Oh, but Mr. Rice doesn't stop there--a huge supporting cast of well-drawn characters all play vital roles. For once, the parents also have juicy history and scenes. Everyone gets resolution or retribution. While he may not have his mother's knack for swoony prose (maybe NOT such a bad thing), he has a style all his own, and he certainly inherited her ability of lending a cinematic feel to his words. It's quite appropriate that this book was published by Miramax.
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Format: Hardcover
Evocative, lush, sexy, mysterious, violent, scandalous. These adjectives describe not only New Orleans but the characters and their stories which Christopher Rice has brought to life. The story opens with Stephen, Greg, Brandon, and Meredith. The overripe Lafayette Cemetery is the setting. They are innocent children, but not for long. Rice shows us that the truth, in fact, is that the friendship bonds we make in our childhood shape us through our entire lives. An event takes place between these friends that forever change the paths their lives take as they enter their adolescence. Homosexuality, crimes against humanity, alcoholism, domestic violence, and suicide are just as much main characters as the four friends. How they entwine together is one of the most mesmerizing, page-turning stories that I have ever read. During Part III of the book, a hurricane hits New Orleans . . . what a perfect climax . . .as a malestrom of emotions and secrets play out amongst the characters, shocking secrets are revealed. Not only are the homes and waterways tossed about; so are the lives of Rice's main characters. The reader is drawn into the story throughout but in the end, it's incredible. The outcome is simply shocking.
I'd love to see this book brought to the big screen. I also hope to see a new release by Christopher Rice very soon.
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Format: Hardcover
Lucky enough to get my hands on an advanced copy of Christopher Rice's first novel, I couldn't wait for it to be released so I could share my thoughts with upcoming readers. Rice starts out a little too poetic, and I feared he was forever trapped in the footsteps of his mother. Anne's work is beatifully written, but often too absorbed in its detail and straying from plot. Chris gives all that up quickly and dives deep into the souls of his characters, giving them life and meaning. I had to stop several times and reread a page just because it touched me so deeply. You feel every second of his youthful characters' rage, gripping the book tightly in your hands and holding your breath. The high school popularity, the homophobia, the family secrets, the madness and rage...there is something that will tease you and make you stop reading for just a second and think of your own life and your experiences. If you don't cry, if you get mad and throw the book down, or even if you don't hold your breath and rush to finish just one more page, then you will never experience the "soul" of this book. It is truly amazing, and one of the best books I have ever read from any new author. Forget for one moment who his mom is and what she has written; listen to Christopher and the story he has to tell. You will be amazed!
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Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up a couple months after I saw it in book stores. As a long time fan of Anne Rice, I figured I would give her son's first novel a try. As a gay man, I figured I would have a book that would touch a nerve somewhere along the way. I was wrong.
Don't get me wrong, I finished this book in a 12 hour period, it reads that fast, but that doesn't mean that the book is well written, in my opinion it shows the lack of depth in these characters.
The book is something you can't turn away from, yet don't know why. It's a bit like watching an autopsy. More precisely, an autopsy on "Melrose's Place".
It seems this is Rice's way to purge his "straight-guy" obsession, by making the lead character so "desirable" that even "straight" guys fall into bed with him. If this represents reality, book me on a one-way to N'Orleans!
And is EVERYONE in Louisiana an alcoholic? Every character is this book is either drunk, or on thier way. I mean, I have nothing against alcohol (I even enjoy it), but come on, not everyone in the social elite of the Garden District is a lush. I cannot believe it.
On the other hand, this IS a first novel and the plot is a genuinely unique story filled with twists and turns. It is definitely entertaining, and I do look forward to more work by Rice. Alas, I look forward more to the improvement in the work rather than the work itself.
My opinion, take it for what it's worth.
PS...a note to Mr. Rice and his editor: Crawfish are crustaceans, NOT mollusks. Thank you.
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