Over the last quarter-century, blood-happy Anne Rice has interviewed vampires, thieved bodies, damned Queens and even eroticized Sleeping Beauty (under a nom de plume, of course). Rice's legions of readers are accustomed to her penchant for storybook scandal, but even the most devout fan couldn't have predicted her latest work of shock: Christ, Our Lord: Out of Egypt. And this one's a freakin' quake. No, Christ isn't a vampire (although, quick, someone pitch that to Darren Shan!). Rather, he is a seven-year-old boy son of God slowly and suspiciously coming to grips with his divinity. The first time young Jesus revives the dead is reminiscent of a mortal kindergartner's initial bike ride: It seems to come naturally, and he will never forget how to do it. Thus begins chapter one in what is bound to become the multi-tiered Gospel according to Rice.
Gothic fans may be reluctant to accept that this is an earnest endeavor, but they'll have to dry their inky eyes on a layer of black tulle. It's not that Rice has "found God," as if he were missing or hiding; she's merely reclaimed a Catholic faith that she renounced back in college. Although the author has a strong personal connection to Christ, this book is more the effort of a historian than a preacher. It is Christianity's overly speculated, overly theorized trillion-piece puzzle that led Rice to this ambitious literary journey. And while skeptical readers may think that telling the story of Christ is a drastic departure from telling the story of Lestat, Rice maintains that the differences between the two are mostly superficial. In her author's note, she writes, "After all, is Christ Our Lord not the ultimate supernatural hero, the ultimate outsider, the ultimate immortal of all time?"
Anne Rice signs copies of Christ, Our Lord: Out of Egypt at Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue; 314-367-6731 or www.left-bank.com) at 6 p.m. Line tickets are available with purchase of the book from Left Bank, and only books purchased at Left Bank will be signed. So it is written, so it shall be done. Kristyn Pomranz
Joie Du Vin
New year, new wine
Certain historians contend that France's involvement in the U.S. Revolutionary War was merely a for-profit scheme that intended to convince Americans to drink Beaujolais Nouveau at their Thanksgiving festivities. This does little to illuminate later French military strategies, but it may explain the annual release of the "turkey wine" one week before the turkey holiday. Whether or not this is France's oldest marketing scam, St. Louis uncorks the celebration with a "Hooray for Beaujolais" party at the Westin St. Louis (811 Spruce Street) from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The $25 party ticket includes plenty of Beaujolais Nouveau, food, music, a two-for-one coupon for a screening at the St. Louis International Film Festival and a chance to win a Paris vacation for two. For reservations call 314-552-5708. Anna Teekell
Art of St. Louis
By the numbers, there are 46 works by 26 local artists in Art St. Louis' 21st annual exhibition, titled simply: Art St. Louis XXI, The Exhibition. The show opens at 6 p.m. Saturday, November 19, at Art Saint Louis Gallery (917 Locust Street; 314-241-4810 or www.artstlouis.net) with juror Christian Rattemeyer's gallery talk; a free reception follows from 7 to 9 p.m. Expect to see a variety of ideas and media, as the show includes everything from the formalist photography of Greg Barth to the photorealistic still-life painting of Dominic Finocchio (that's his Half of a Pair [Study] pictured) to the temporally charged nature of Jennifer A. Weigel's found objects and mixed media. Come out and see what's going on in the local art world. Art St. Louis XXI remains up through January 6. Guy Gray
Make Shopping History
You could spend the day watching the Rams pluck the feathers off the Cardinals while you're elbow-deep in Thanksgiving roll batter (how many dozens do you need by Thursday?), but you do that every year. This year, put a little "ooh" and "ahh" into your afternoon (from noon to 4 p.m.) at the free Holiday Fair at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue). Around 40 local authors will be signing books, and you can purchase local art, participate in a free holiday-card workshop and browse the museum-shop sale. Then, after your gifts are wrapped for free, gather the family on the trolley for the perfect holiday photo (bring your own camera). For more information call 314-746-4599 or visit www.mohistory.org. Amy Helms