Called Out of Darkness A Spiritual Confession Anne Rice Alfred A. Knopf, $24, 256 pp.
Some years ago I considered writing a long book of conversion stories—starting with John Henry Newman and ending with some contemporary converts. The project never got off the ground, but I never lost my taste for reading about conversion experiences. For that reason alone, the story Anne Rice tells in Called Out of Darkness had an almost instant appeal to me. The broad outline of the story will already be familiar to many readers: Rice, a writer famous for gothic novels involving dark angels and vampires, returned to her childhood faith more than a decade ago and began writing a series of books that retell the life of Jesus, two of which have already been published.
Rice's account of her childhood offers a brilliant portrait of pre-Vatican II Catholicism set against the lush background of New Orleans. She was born into a Catholic family that went back several generations. She tells us about her early childhood, her Catholic education, and her bittersweet relationship with her mother, who drank herself to death when Rice was just fourteen.