If neatness counts for you, don't count on Anne Rice's musical-ghost novel Violin. It is an eruption of the author's personal demons, as messy as the monster bursting from that poor fellow's chest in the movie Alien. Like Rice, the heroine Triana lives in New Orleans, mourns a dead young daughter and a drunken mother, and is subject to uncanny visions. A violin-virtuoso ghost named Stefan time-trips and globetrots with Triana, taunting her for her inability to play his Stradivarius--which echoes composer Salieri's jealousy in Amadeus and possibly Rice's jealousy of her successful poet husband Stan Rice in the years before her own florid, lurid writing made her famous. The storytelling here is too abstract, but the almost certainly autobiographical emotions could not be more visceral. At one point, the narrator exclaims, "Shame, blame, maim, pain, vain!" But Rice's dip in the acid bath of memory was not in vain--she packs the pain of a lifetime into 289 pages.