Sunday, April 25, 2021

23. Don't Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier

He gets his name on the cover, so I guess I also have to give a shoutout to story selector and introduction writer, Patrick McGrath, who I guess put together this New York Review of Books collection.  Daphne du Maurier is one of those authors with whose name I have been quite familiar while also basically being ignorant of what she actually did. This book was handed on to me by a friend who was doing a shelf purge.  I felt a bit burdened, but now am glad I read it as it is a nice introduction to du Maurier.  She is an excellent writer.  Although I am not a huge fan of short stories, her clear prose and subtle ability to change styles and perspectives is well demonstrated in all these stories.

The two well-known stories, because of the movies based on them are the titular "Don't Look Now" and "The Birds".  I didn't love the movie of Don't Look Now.  I don't know why, it just kind of bugged me. The death of the daughter was so horrific and sad that the rest of the movie couldn't surpass that feeling and the couple just seemed mostly annoying.  The story is tighter and the husband comes off much more as being an ignorant ass (and thus getting his ironic, "Appointment in Samarrah" type ending).  The Birds was simply exquisite.  A dark, tight story of survival in rural England, it feels very influenced by WWII and the blitz.  The movie takes the basic premise but completely relocates it.  Here we have much more of a straightforward and grim tale of apocalyptic survival.  Just excellent.

The other stories are all equally well-written and intriguing, but ultimately suffer for me from the lack of depth inherent in the short story. There is a really cool one where a woman comes out of an eye operation and everybody has a different animal head (The Blue Lenses).  Kiss me Again, Stranger is a nice woman as serial killer twist with a great but doomed young romance encounter.  

I will have to read one of her novels at some point.

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