Monthly Archives: December 2013

Rosemary’s Baby

RosemarysBabyBook

This is one I have been excited about. I found the book in a child’s wagon outside of a dual book and jewelry store on the island of Molokai. All of the books in the wagon were only twenty-five cents (a bit more expensive than my dime-book finds, but still a deal.) Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby is known not only as a classic film but a great story. I love horror, tension, and the best part is when “evil” is not the true villain of the story.

I’ll be totally honest. I did see the film before I found the book and loved it. When I found the book, I wasn’t sure it could be better. I mean, we are talking about Roman Polanski, aren’t we? But after reading this book and thinking about how it succeeded in a completely different way than the film, I realized that the best stories aren’t exclusive to one form. In fact, each form brings out something new to the experience and it’s not fair to call one better than the other.

In One Sentence: Housewife gives birth to Satan’s baby. (Well… it’s her baby too.  Hence, the title.)

Favorite Line: “… she wished that no motive and no number of drinks could have enabled him to take her that way, taking only her body without her soul or self or she-ness — whatever it was he presumably loved. Now, looking back over the past weeks and months, she felt a disturbing presence of overlooked signals just beyond memory, signals of a shortcoming in his love for her, of a disparity between what he said and what he felt. He was an actor; could anyone know when an actor was true and not acting?” – p. 94

Review: As I was skimming through the book to look back at quotes and scenes, I found myself becoming immersed in this world once again. Ira Levin is a master-page-turner. Rosemary’s Baby is enjoyable for two reasons. One, the most horrifying element of the story has nothing to do with Satan. This story takes us to what we fear most (not in a snakes and monsters way, but what do we fear will happen now? tomorrow? the next day?) and adds a supernatural twist. Second, Ira Levin. Since reading this novel, I am addicted to Ira Levin. It’s no wonder his books easily get turned into films. Every sentence propels the story forward. THIS IS NOT VICTOR HUGO, PEOPLE. I’ve read a few of Ira Levin’s novels now, and the only shortcoming I can see is a product of his time. His women characters turn quickly to silly putty in the face of danger and all his male characters use sex as a weapon… but with that said, I can’t stop reading.

The Book Would Have Ended A Lot Sooner If: Actors weren’t self-involved.

On Ira Levin:

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House Rules

9780061341236

Whenever I’m feeling slightly stressed or anxiety-prone, I stop by a Goodwill for a quick hit of book buying. At Goodwill, there will be a two copies of New Moon, some Grisham book, and if you’re lucky a slightly torn up hard cover Harry Potter. Once in awhile, if I am careful and read through each title and paragraph description, I’ll find something I never knew existed.

House Rules by Rachel Sontag interested me immediately as a memoir on the premise of emotional abuse from her parents rather than the more radical, probable, and comprehensible physical abuse. Not only that, but the author’s description toted an MFA from the New School. I was in the process for applying to grad schools (not on the east coast, really, but in the general sense) and thought it was worth looking into how her background influenced her writing.

In One Sentence: A girl growing up is chastised for growing up.

Favorite Line: “It came out almost shyly. And I thought he’d come to a stop, realizing he was killing a certain part of me, and I thought that Mom was going to blow the whistle, declare that we’d gone too far. But Dad looked up from the carpet, into my eyes, and said, ‘I mean that, Rachel. I really do. I wish you were never born. I really, really do.'” – p. 158

Review: This is essentially a coming of age story. This story works wonderfully on the level of laying out the context and instances of emotional abuse through clear, matter-of-fact style. The greatest moments of any memoir is when the author takes time to reflect on their own involvement and growth in the piece, and Sontag succeeds in keeping those moments genuine and well-placed. While her father comes across as controlling (a patriarch on a power trip), the betrayal she feels from her mother, her family, her friends is more heartbreaking. This book brings up a great question about writing non-fiction: how do you write your story without hurting the people you love? Someone once told me in a workshop something they had heard from someone else, and has likely travelled from writer to writer since. You are allowed to write your story, because it’s yours. If people get upset, they can write their version, but don’t let it stop you. This book is a must-read, unless you’ve had more serious life problems where this might come off as first world problems (see: Anne Frank).

The Book Would Have Ended A Lot Sooner If: Adults did not act so openly like children.

In Other News: In a strange turn of events, after the book was published the parents decided to “set things right” and created a website posting their story along with an abundance of notes, recordings, and odd poetry. In another example of I-think-you-just-proved-my-point, enjoy:

http://www.sontaghouserules.com/

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