Such is the irony of fame: While Anne Rice is a household name, her husband, Stan Rice, was the one who first made it as a writer. In the Bay Area in the mid-’70s, Mr. Rice, a poet and painter, was chairman of the creative writing department at San Francisco State University. He was the breadwinner who encouraged the unemployed Mrs. Rice to work full-time on what would become Interview With the Vampire.
Twenty years later, it’s Anne who brings home the bacon: Her ”Vampire Chronicles” and other novels have reportedly sold 150 million copies worldwide. As for Stan, well, he’s still writing. His latest poetry collection, Fear Itself, featuring one of his own paintings on the cover, has just been published by that most prestigious of poetry publishers, Knopf—which just happens to publish his wife. When he signed with the house three years ago to bring out Singing Yet, his selected poems, book-industry observers probably saw it as the worst kind of nepotism. Actually, it was more like the best: A deserving poet had finally found a decent home.
He’s still not about to become a household name. Few poets these days reach a wide audience, and Rice keeps a low profile even within the poetry world. He rarely even gives interviews, preferring not to be seen as Anne’s sideshow. ”He’s a very talented but overlooked poet, and part of it probably has to do with his wife’s reputation,” says Ross Feld, a novelist and critic who reviewed one of Stan’s earlier books. ”It’s too bad, because he really deserves some autonomous respect.” —Matthew Flamm