Drunken Pen Review: Rosemary’s Baby
Pairs Well With:
A bottle of Apothic Dark; a dark, full flavoured heavy red blend that compliments the psychotic paranoia and sickening realizations that arise over the course of this iconic novel. And might I suggest grabbing a few bottles? You’ll thank me.
Author(s): Ira Levin
Rating: Five Out of Five Shots
A wife and her underappreciated actor husband move into a new, highly glamorized New York City loft. Upon moving in, Rosemary hears tales of horrific happenings that plagued this building, and the oddly involved neighbors aren’t doing anything to help remedy her growing unease. Soon enough, she becomes pregnant, and believes that everything is starting to look up. But that’s when the true terrors begin to step into the light, and we’re left wondering, “What’s wrong with Rosemary’s baby?”
There aren’t enough shots in the world, nor pills, nor enough of sensational sensory deprecating materials to make this novel ever seem callous and contrived. This novel will always – always – be current and terrible, horrifying and thought provoking. More than fifty years since its inception, this book still has an unquieting power and the ability to haunt dreams and drive even the most sane of us into a fit of delirium with the tossing terror of Rosemary’s perspective.
If I said everything, I’d be mocked as a Levin lover boy. But I’m okay with that. At least in regards to this novel. My God, the pacing, the prose, the timing of events, the explanatory passages, the tense moments of sudden action – all of this is perfect and wonderfully executed! I can’t get over the technical and artistic mastery of Ira. He wrote this in an era of overused tropes and horrific material, and yet his work stands out as something that defines horror, not just follows an architectural layout. He follows in the footsteps of Poe, Henry James, and Le Fanu creating perfect atmosphere, and unrelenting paranoia throughout the whole story.
The hangover lies only in the expert ending. Truly, there is a need in the reader to see the story through, to find out how Rosemary copes, how she lives and what becomes of the baby; none of this addressed, and my God do we want to know! Honestly, the only downside to this novel, aside from some of the weaker aspects of Rosemary’s personality (unquestioned devotion/idolization of her actor husband, trust of tenants, and overall naivety in approaching untrustworthy characters), is that it doesn’t continue past the last page, letting us know what we are to expect in the coming world power.
Some may take issue with the desperate, powerlessness of Rosemary, but I think this aspect is possibly what makes the story all the more believable. Here is a pregnant woman, dealing with the hormones and bodily changes that wreak havoc on every pregnant woman’s mind, and while she’s dealing with this, she’s trying to figure out why exactly her neighbors are acting so strange, and why her husband’s sudden rise to fame is marked with tragedy. And not only that, but the knowledge that she’s being manipulated and lied to is twisting her mind. So, while it’s hardly the most empowering thing to read, this narrative is so much more believable and creates empathy for Rosemary.
Corking the Bottle:
If you’re looking for a quick, shocking read, add Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin to your reading list. The uneasiness starts almost from page one, and you’ll be left with a creepy, haunted feeling long after the final sentence.
Written by a master of the horror genre, Rosemary’s Baby is a book that I consider an essential read and possibly one of the more important horror novels of the 20th century. It is certainly not a comfortable read, and it won’t leave you with the traditional satisfaction of some of the other books we’ve reviewed, but there is a certain power and awe that one can appreciate in the unconventional aspect of… Well, the entire book.
Pick up a copy today, and enjoy a good bottle of wine as you relax.