Reviewed by Eric Wilson
Called out of Darkness by Anne Rice
"Although we never get much in the way of 'confession' or insight into Anne's personal history, we do see a soul's clear journey from darkness back into light."
I still consider "The Road to Cana" as one of the best books I've read this year, and so it was with great anticipation I picked up Rice's spiritual confession. With a title such as "Called Out of Darkness," I expected a deep exploration of her past, her writings, and her more recent return to faith.
To be honest, this book threw me for a while. The first half is a rambling nostalgic journey through Anne's childhood, with very little reference to specifics regarding her family, her mother's passing, etc. I get the feeling Anne has sorrows she would rather not revisit, or shame she would rather not point out in her family's past. I admire this restraint, in comparison to some "tell all" memoirs, and yet it caused a big disconnect for me as a reader for those first hundred pages. My favorite spiritual memoirs (particularly Anne Lamott's "Traveling Mercies" and Donald Miller's "Blue Like Jazz") involve a great deal of self-disclosure--but we get very little of that here.
The second half of the book makes up for the first half. Although we never get much in the way of "confession" or insight into Anne's personal history, we do see a soul's clear journey from darkness back into light. We also get hints of the beautifully balanced marriage she enjoyed, with equality and raw discourse. We see her great love for her secular humanist friends, the Jewish people, and her friends of the Protestant world. She shows amazing equanimity, while also holding tightly to her own Catholic upbringing.
There are passages beautiful and poignant. Anne details her intellectual decision of faith, and paints a true picture of what that means. Chapter 9 and 10 alone make the whole book worth the reading, full as they are of truth and yearning. She addresses the tendency of some to paint Christianity as a path to peace of mind or monetary gain, while in fact it involves great difficulty and self-sacrifice. It involves--as she points out in loving and passionate pleas--a call to love our friends and enemies, resisting the urge to become divided over issues of gender and politics, but instead to focus on the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you're looking for dirt here, you won't find it. If you're hoping for probing peeks into the life of Anne Rice, look elsewhere. If, however, you're truly interested in the journey from darkness into the light of God's love, then this book might serve as a step along that path.
Eric Wilson is the author of twelve novels that explore Earth's tension between heaven and hell, the latest of which is One Step Away, a twist on the story of Job. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two daughters. Visit him online at his website.