Anne Rice changed vampires for the better. She also changed her readers.

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I can speak to this only as a reader who found “Interview With the Vampire” at precisely the right time and in the right place, as a still-closeted college freshman in New Orleans in the mid-1980s. As a good, Catholic Midwesterner, the city was for me what it had been to so many newcomers before and since: a source of charm and intrigue, wide open to anyone with any predilection yet foreboding nevertheless. To get to the French Quarter required a hypnotically lolling ride on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar, passing through Rice’s beloved Garden District, beneath an endless canopy of oak limbs and overt displays of genteel wealth and corresponding poverty. The smells and sounds of it stay with you, as they stayed with her: “As soon as I smelled the air, I knew I was home,” one of her vampires effused. “It was rich, almost sweet, like the scent of jasmine and roses around our old courtyard. I walked the streets, savoring that long lost perfume.”

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