Shortly after deciding to write my first novel, I began searching for books to read that had a theme similar to the one I was writing. I put together a list of worthwhile candidates, a list that continues to grow as I move forward. A Density of Souls by Christopher Rice was the first book I read from this list. For anyone not familiar with Christopher Rice, he is the son of the famous author Anne Rice and the late poet Stan Rice. This was Rice’s first novel, written when he was a mere 21 and first published in 2000.
The novel’s main characters are of a similar age and generation as those in my novel. The protagonist Stephen is a gay teenager living in modern-day New Orleans who is searching for love and acceptance as well as dealing with some very ugly homophobia from former friends. Since Rice’s book has received generally very positive reviews, I thought this would be a good reading for my gaining a better appreciation of some of the issues facing gay youth in modern society. Even though I too am gay, I am considerably older (to put it mildly) than Stephen and his contemporaries. I was not certain just how different things might be today from when I came out of the closet in 1976. Thus I felt the book would provide me a better understanding of the issues facing today’s gay youth, particularly those in their late teens and early twenties.
The novel did not disappoint, although before reading it I did not appreciate just how dark it would be. It is an enjoyable fast read, a story that takes some surprising twists, interesting characters all of whom are flawed, some severely so, and a dramatic narrative that includes murder, rape, and a horrific mass killing by a hate group. This is not the theme my novel will have but the issues of homophobia, coming out and finding love and tenderness that Rice addresses in his book will be helpful for me in my efforts. Thank you Christopher for writing such a worthy first novel and for helping me in my quest.