. . . And One With Vanity

TITLE: THE TALE OF THE BODY THIEF

AUTHOR: ANNE RICE

PUBLISHER: KNOPF; 430 PAGES; $24

THE BOTTOM LINE: A foppish bloodsucker gets conned out of his socks in a narration that is very campy, very clever.

One of the better literary jokes of the past few years is Anne Rice's portrayal of vampires -- actually gray-suited Pat Buchanan-type homophobes who wouldn't risk a Paisley tie, most of them -- as mincing exquisites. Boldly and impudently, she has caricatured the gaudy world of high-camp New Orleans homosexuals (so the reader guesses) as a cabal of tormented blood drinkers. The mannered dress and...

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