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Old June 7 2011, 01:26 AM   #635
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction and Film

Do it. Delany is great. Nova was a childhood favourite of mine, and the older I get, the more I appreciate his work.

Back to horror fiction...I decided I needed a palate cleanser after Hands of Lucifer. And I've had Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby sitting on my bookshelf for a while. So I decided to read it.

I'm glad I did. Even after seeing the movie a few times, I still thought the book was terrific. In fact, I now see that one of the reasons why the movie was so good is because it was so faithful to the book.

Levin wrote with all the economy of a crime writer. (His first novel was actually a crime novel--A Kiss Before Dying) Not a word is wasted, and the plot is even structured like a mystery. I've read that some mystery connossieurs like to read the last chapter first, so that they can better appreciate the way the author lays out the clues, and misdirects the reader. The effect of reading Rosemary's Baby after watching the movie was somewhat similar.

Levin creates an atmosphere of paranoia and dread that is almost palpable. And the final reveal lost none of its power, even though I knew what was coming. But what I wasn't expecting was the greater richness of the last few pages, in which Rosemary accepts her role as the Anti-Madonna. Her internal conflict, and its tragic resolution, is something that the movie could only hint at. That alone made the book worth reading.

And I was pleased to discover that in the book Rosemary comes from a Catholic Irish family in Omaha, Nebraska, just like me.

It really is a classic, and a paradigm for the genre. Four 's out of four. My faith in horror fiction has been fully restored.

I think I'll read The Witching Night next, before I return to the B-list books.
An illusion--with intelligence! A malignant vision, with a will of pure evil!
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