Reading is my only true escape from reality. This month I needed it more than ever, and yet every night I would be so exhausted with the thinking, writing, reading, analyzing I do in real life that I would go to bed, but stay awake wondering why I am not reading something just for fun. On a trip to the library, I decided to pick something besides literary theory – and I was reminded of this comment left by Seamus on the post regarding my favorite short stories. Don’t Look Now worked as the perfect in-between from theoretical reading and bedtime!
It’s been a while since I read a whole book of short stories, and although I really enjoyed Rebecca when I first read it, I have not read anything else by du Maurier. After this book, I know I definitely will. I think I have another book of her’s somewhere in the house. But, I digress.
After reading the first short story, “Don’t Look Now,” I was surprised to find out that the story has been made into a full length feature film. Thank goodness I was completely unaware of this and more importantly, hadn’t seen the movie. This was by far my favorite story of the collection. Perhaps because it set the mood so perfectly and the characters were well-developed and likeable. Also, the length of the story was perfect, a little on the longer side, but not overwhelming.
“The Birds,” is perhaps most known for its film counterpart, and as much as I love Hitchcock, I am disappointed that the film had nothing to do with the story. The story is much simpler, yet so much more effective. It somehow reminded me of the post-apocalyptic world in Richard Matheson’s I am Legend. The hero of this story is similarly resourceful and more importantly, admirable. I simply loved Nat and wished he’d make a comeback in the collection. The writer creates an eerie, claustrophobic ambiance and spins it around creatures that we wouldn’t think of fearing. But, trust me, when you read this story and step out of the house, you’ll eye your regional bird with suspicion.
The other stories I liked were “Split Second,” “The Blue Lenses,” “Kiss me Again, Stranger” – in that order. I completely skipped Escort, and thought nothing of “La Sainte-Vierge” and “Indiscretion.” I am boggled, however, by the inclusion of “Monte Verita.” If someone is a du Maurier expert of some sort please tell me what redeemed this story. It was too long, too detailed, and didn’t do anything to excite my reading sensibilities. I kind of regret reading it at all!
That being said, this collection is worth reading for a majority of the stories. You can skip the ones you don’t like, but there are at least five that you will really enjoy. Now, let’s look for that du Maurier book hiding in my book-shelf!