Posts Tagged ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

I’ve made a huge mistake. Bigger than perms. Bigger than Jagermeister. Bigger than discontinuing Viennetta.

 

"Avenge me!"

“Avenge me!”

 

Recently I read and just finished up the sequel to “Rosemary’s Baby” – “The Son of Rosemary”.

Before I confess my sin (boo hiss), let me explain myself. Many years ago, having loved, loved, loved “Rosemary’s Baby” oh so much, I researched the author Ira Levin and was thrilled when I saw there was a sequel. However, Amazon reviews were not kind.

 

rvw rvw2 rvw3

 

I’m not one to  be swayed by reviews (I have my own mind, damn it!), but with most of the reviews in the one star range, I opted to keep my love for the original intact and instead read “A Kiss Before Dying”. I enjoyed it.

But back to Rosemary and her demon spawn.

I first read “Rosemary’s Baby” when I was maybe fifteen and the writing hooked me. I found it in the attic, buried in a box of my mother’s high school things.

It was like crack. Levin’s style is so clean, crisp and says so much. It draws you in. I wanted to be at the party where Rosemary ruins her mascara. I wanted to throttle her husband, Guy for not believing her stories about witches. I remember when she makes the drink with egg and sherry and to this day think I’d like to try one. Scenes linger strong in my memory. As a kid, and as a woman now, I still admire that book. I reread it every few years, and marvel at its style.

And so…all this led me to NOT reading “Son of Rosemary”.

That is, until I received the book in the mail with a note from my little sister.

 

In our family, a post-it note constitutes a double dare.

In our family, a post-it note constitutes a double dare.

 

Okay. So now I had the book. Curiosity made it too strong to just put it away. I couldn’t resist. I picked it up and went to my pool, deciding it could be a tawdry novel for sunbathing.

Worst. Mistake. Ever.

The writing is atrocious. I literally screeched aloud no less than ten times at classics like this:

 

She sat down, took a deep breath, and lifted the handset. Put it to her ear. Said, “Andy?”

“Tears are running down my face.”

Her tears welled.

 

Epic face palms every single sitting. The book even singed itself onto my thigh.

 

The devil's mark comes in print form.

The devil’s mark comes in print form.

 

And yet, like your dad on his wedding night, I plowed ahead. It was too awful to put down. Like watching a fat-person-eat -cake-while-simultaneously-having-a-heart-attack awful. Plus, it’s hard for me to give up on a book. I’ve probably only done it once or twice in my life. I gotta finish those bastards off.

I expected it to be bad; but I didn’t expect it to be one of the worst books I’ve ever read. My only comfort is that I’ve never read “50 Shades of Grey”. And still won’t.

Ira Levin must have had a boner while he wrote this piece of shit because every other paragraph consists of Rosemary and her son Andy smothering each other with kisses.

Let’s review shall we?

 

Page 34: After the hugs and kisses, the sighs and caresses and tears and tissues…

Page 35: They sat close together, facing each other, clasping hands…

Page 45: He kissed her cheek.

Page 51: They kissed each other’s temples, kissed cheeks, the corners of their mouths – she pushed, they let each other go, turned.

Page 57: “Ah, poor baby,” he said, raining kisses on her head…

Page 166: They tramped along in their shades, gloved hands joined.

Page 193: He kissed her cheek; she kissed his, where his beard began.

 

I think you get the point.  Seriously, open the book, stick a finger in, and you’ll land on something involving kisses and caresses. It goes on and on like this, until son tries to have his way with his mother. I think. Maybe. I read it with half-slitted eyes while gagging.

And the ending. Oh the ending. It would put the TV show “St. Elsewhere” to shame.

I’m gonna spoil it because you don’t need to read it. The first book, “Rosemary’s Baby” never happened. It was all a dream. What the fuck, Levin? You toy with my emotions for fifteen years and I read the sequel to find it’s all a dream? That’s the cheapest copout I’ve ever had.

After my initial rage settled and I finished my hate filled rant on my sister’s voicemail cursing her for ever sending me the book I began to think.

I was sad. Levin’s writing was great in 1967. The Son of Rosemary was published in 1997. So what happened in that span of time? Granted, writers can get worse. But man, he had goodness.  He had something.

I guess he peaked.

A flood of questions hit me. Did the publisher just blindly toss him a deal without reading it because he sold books before? Did Levin know his writing wasn’t up to par, but desperate for a paycheck vomited some sort of shitbag of a novel? The saddest question, did Levin think his writing was good? That is was comparable to the original?

I get it. Bad writers get good writing deals. I’m not naïve. Writing is so subjective and this is my opinion, but man, when you compare what Levin had to what he ended up with, it’s Mickey Rourke staggering.

I-uh-I...just wow.

I-uh-I…just wow.

 

It’s my fault. I should have let the original novel live on in my head. Instead I have the sequel creeping in late at night like that dude down the street who calls himself your uncle and laughs when you back away in fear.

 

"Get it. Get it."

“Get it. Get it.”

 

I blame my sister for sending me the book.

I blame myself for being hopped up on Coronas and thinking I can do tawdry.

But most of all, I blame Ira Levin. You should have just let Rosemary hail Satan in peace.

Books burn! I weep!

It’s a horrible thought – books burning. Luckily we don’t live in communist China and except for the great Disco Demolition Night of 1979 we don’t have to worry too much about people lighting the objects we love on fire on purpose.

So this got me thinking…what books would I save if it came down to it? Imagine your house is on fire and you can pause time to save five books before fleeing the burning abode as coolly as Kurt Russell in Backdraft.

 

Eeeee, FIRE!

Think of the books you couldn’t part with.

Luckily, most books are replaceable except for the ones that hold a soft spot in your dreary, sentimental soul.

And because I’m a big fan and get hot for odd numbers, let’s put a cap on this to FIVE books. Yes, you heard me. Just five.

THIS IS THE SOPHIE’S CHOICE OF BOOK POSTS.

My choices to save.

 

Book porn right here.

 

All mean something to me. All have an explanation.

 

1. The Very Scary Almanac by Eric Elfman

I SCAAAARED

I remember the moment I got this book with perfect clarity. My dad and I were in a drugstore, it was nearing Halloween and he said I could get a book. Dad knew me well.

The Very Scary Almanac was on a rack as well as another Halloween-themed recipe book. And so I was torn between how to make grapes feel like moist eyeballs or learning about The Bermuda Triangle.

I chose wisely.

11 year-old Jules approves.

I have no doubt this book set me on my path of freakiness, gave me my current love of the odd and paranormal. To this day, I’m still amazed and fascinated by the weird.

Subjects dad did not frown upon.

Every October I still read it.

I’d save this baby from a burning building any day.

With tips like this how could you not?

 

2. The Outsiders by SE Hinton.

 

Let’s do this shit for Johnny.

This book made me a writer. I read this in seventh grade I think and instantly I knew I wanted to write. It’s stuck with me. This copy is my original. Weathered and battered, it’s been mine for a long, long time.

I’ll never loan it out to anyone.

I read this book to my little sister when we lived in our grandmother’s basement (yes, make a story out of that true fact) in North Dakota. Every night I’d read her a chapter, curled up in bed together, and giggling over the dreamy boys on the cover.

nothing says teenage angst like jacket vests and cuffed sleeves

It’s still my favorite book. I’ll probably be buried with it.

clearly vandalizing books is my forte

 

3. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I realize this is an odd choice since this book is pretty replaceable. However, I got this book on one of my best trips ever. New Orleans. Read the post here.

I loved that trip. I did everything on my own and still get warm fuzzies thinking about it. I visited about three old bookstores and decided to pick up this Gaiman book. It’s the first one I ever read of his and I started reading it in NOLA.

And it smells oh so good. Dear god, I love the smell of books.

Even now – just yesterday in fact – I picked it off the shelf and breathed in its musty scent. Yes, I’m that creeper. Invite me over to your house and you’ll find me sniffing your books.

It smells like my trip. It smells like memories.

It’s $5 to smell me. $20 for the fancy stuff.

 

4. McCall’s Guide to Teenage Beauty by Betsy Keifer

Everything I am not.

This was my mother’s book. I found it in the attic of my grandmother’s house. Originally published in 1959, the edition I have is from 1965. It sold for 50 cents. 50 CENTS.

Is your blood boiling yet?

The McCall’s Guide to Teenage Beauty is a delightful flashback to vintage nostalgia, but it also is a true look at what women’s roles were back then. Sure, we hear the stories, but seeing it in print and literally asking aloud, “Is this for real-real?” is like a punch to the ovaries.

I remember reading it as a 10 or 12-year-old and being unsure as what to make of the beauty and exercise tips. Happily, I didn’t put too much stock in it. Deep down I think I knew it was amusing.

COMMMENCE SELF-ESTEEM PROBLEMS FOR ALL WOMEN

I mean, sure, it did help in some aspects back when I was a kid. Nope, I don’t have scoliosis, yep, my face is definitely oval-shaped, meaning “any coiffure is becoming”.

Now looking through it I realize I break all the rules. I could never be a 50s housewife.

-I do not wear clothes like a model

-I slouch like a mofo

-Elbows on the table is common practice

-Showers are an afterthought

Ahem…so getting off the topic of my slovenliness… it’s just a book I’m proud to have. And again with the whole sentimental factor. Plus it’s awesome vintageness and with pictures like this you can’t get much better than that.

FML.

 

5. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

The big ‘R’ makes you know it’s serious.

Dear god, I love this book.

Again, this is another of my mother’s book. Found in the attic. As I type this I realize I really need to write a story on all my attic treasures…

This is the 1968 edition, selling for 95 cents.

The spine is ripped and broken but it’s still staying together somehow. I’ve only loaned it out once (to my sister who I threatened repeatedly to get it back) and it smells so lovely.

I love this book because of Levin’s writing style. Sparse, to-the-point, I’m never bored with the description. He paints a clear picture and it makes me want to be there. Well, not frolicking with devil-worshippers but you get the idea.

no really, frolic.

 

I also love it because it was my mother’s and I’ve had it for a long, long time.

Those are my answers to the five books I’d save from a fire. Sorry to the remaining bound wonders in my bookcase but these are my beauties.

 

What are yours? Do tell.

Henry demands it.