Christopher Rice A Density of Souls

ISBN 13: 9780786866465

A Density of Souls

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A Density of Souls is the story of four high school friends in present-day New Orleans who are torn apart by envy, passion and a secret murder. Meredith, Brandon, Greg and Stephen quickly discover the fragile boundaries between friendship and betrayal as they enter high school and form new allegiances. Brandon and Greg gain popularity as football jocks and Meredith joins the bulimic in-crowd, while Stephen is treated as a outcast and is the target of homophobia in a school that viciously mocks him. Then two violent deaths disrupt the core of what they once shared. Five years later the friends are drawn back together as new facts about their mutual history are revealed and what was held to be a tragic accident is discovered to be murder. A the true story emerges, other secrets begin to unravel and the casual cruelties of high school develop into acts of violence that threaten on entire city. Unputdownable, A Destiny of Souls is a stunning debut novel that lays the darker side of the teenage psyche in modern-day life.

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Review:

Take the sensuous, fecund New Orleans setting, add a generous helping of tangled Southern family history, and season liberally with a sensitive teenage boy rejected by his friends and frightened of his own homoerotic impulses and you wouldn't be surprised to discover that the novel containing all of the above was written by someone named Rice. But a few paragraphs into the first page, it's clear that Anne Rice's son's first novel isn't about vampires or witches and does not otherwise read like one of her exceedingly popular books. The only family resemblance is in the setting, the sexual orientation of the lovingly described male characters, and the scent of overripe magnolias.

There's murder, suicide, and madness at the heart of this rather clumsy coming-of-age story, which focuses on the youthful friendship of Stephen Conlin, Meredith Ducote, Greg Darby, and Brandon Charbonnet. This friendship is destroyed by a sexual incident that takes place just before the foursome enters Cannon, an exclusive prep school. There, Stephen is ostracized by his former friends, now the most popular kids on campus, who'd just as soon forget their own complicity in the event. Envy, passion, and rage drive the narrative, but the emotions are as juvenile as the characters, and the long passages depicting the rituals and cruelties of high school, from pep rallies to football games, slow down the pace without really illuminating character or motivation. The novel reads like a roman à clef. Rice might have been wiser to tell someone else's story rather than his own. --Jane Adams

About the Author:

Christopher Rice was born in Berkeley, California and moved to New Orleans with his parents at the age of ten. He has lived in New York City, where he briefly studied screenwriting at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. His mother Anne is a novelist and his late father Stan was a poet, painter, and former chairman of the creative writing department at San Francisco State University. Christopher lives in Los Angeles.

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Christopher Rice
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