Ira Levin sold a lot of books in his career. And the man is a born storyteller. I ripped through Rosemary's Baby on Tuesday in about four hours. The pacing is extraordinary and it's damned scary. Levin creates a sinister building here--the Bramford. It's a place with a sordid history of Satanism, witchcraft, cannibalism and suicide. Think Stephen King's 1408 amplified beyond a single haunted room.
And it's that haunting aspect that I always find fascinating. Levin plays with the notion that places can carry a certain psychic residue based on the things that happened there. It's a neat idea. I recall when Jeanne and I rented our first apartment, and we went to the Salvation Army to buy some furniture, pots and pans and the like. I remember buying a matching set of four black plates and wondering what meals had been eaten on them before. I wondered what happened in the chair we bought. But in this case, not only is the building--well, influential on its inhabitants, but its full of practicing Satanists. It's a double whammy for poor Rosemary.
Levin's intricate plotting keeps this sucker singing along and it's a truly disheartening journey to watch Rosemary Woodhouse blunder into the conspiracy against her and her baby. The book is excellent and Roman Polanski's film is a classic. If you haven't looked at this one, do so this weekend and check out Ruth Gordon's Oscar-winning turn there. Very creepy.