Saturday, March 24, 2012

Don't Look Now

If you're familiar with Daphne Du Maurier's writing, you'll know a few of her works were the inspiration for Hitchcock films, including Jamaica Inn, Rebecca, and the short story The Birds. However in Du Maurier's version of The Birds there is no sleepy New England town, there is no terrified class of school kids, there are no telephone booths at all, and of course there is no overly stylish Tippi Hedren running around. All there is a man and his family, a freezing wind, and the birds. Du Maurier creates a stark landscape and a terrifyingly simple premise: something is wrong with the birds. Supposedly Du Maurier was not very happy with Hitchcock's take on her story. I can't blame her, while Hitchcock's version is undeniably a classic, the original is taut and sparse and timelessly terrifying.

The Birds is included in this collection of Du Maurier's shorter fiction along with some other tense and mysterious stories. In her time, and even sometimes still, Du Maurier was relegated to bestseller status and her writing wasn't really taken seriously or considered "literature" by her peers. More recently her status has been raised by newer readers who are recognizing her as an incredible suspense writer. If you're interested in reading some of her work, I highly recommend the classic Rebecca and the above collection of short stories Don't Look now.

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