Finishing Christopher Rice’s first novel, A Density of Souls, was a chore partly because of the awkwardness with which he mishandled words. If a word arrests the reader’s attention, it detracts from the sentence and the work as a whole. Rice made some strange verb choices. He seemed enamored with “cock” and “splay”. Why his editor allowed a character to have “splayed” her napkin is a greater mystery than the one miscarried by the plot. On the plus side, he captured the tone of youthful gay relationships. He offered a titillating peek into the world of boyish mutual masterbation and an obligatory coming of gayness story. I was disappointed at the lack of New Orleans setting descriptions, considering his best-selling mother Anne Rice’s lush descriptions of The Big Easy. If I read one more explanation of how the high water table prevents ground burials there, I think I’ll scream. It was utterly irrelevant to this book. Still, it is a first novel that was published, and more books have followed quickly.
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