Sunday, September 07, 2008

deliciously dark short stories


One of the many things I loved about R.I.P. last year was short story Sunday, though I did a less than stellar job of remembering to participate on a weekly basis. And while not an "official" part of this year's challenge, I know that at least a couple other people (Stephanie and Somer) are going to post about their creepy short reads...yeah! Though of course, it will be hell on the old wish list. Already added Nocturnes by John Connolly thanks to Somer's post. Anyway, I really do enjoy reading short stories, especially those of the dark variety, so I decided I would try to get a few in each week, too.

Up first were "Don't Look Now" and "The Apple Tree" by Daphne du Maurier. This is the first time I've read any of her work. I was really excited at the prospect of reading Rebecca after reading Chris's review last year. And then was really excited to give Jamaica Inn a go after reading Stephanie's review. But then, as I so often do, I went and scared myself out of actually trying either one of them. I have this thing about "classics"...I get all worried that I just won't "get" them. Despite the fact that I usually enjoy them when I do give them a go. My mind is not always a rational one. Anyway, I actually went to the library to pick up Jamaica Inn right after reading Stephanie's review, but while I was there I saw Daphne du Maurier's Classics of the Macabre. It was an easy decision to pick that one up instead...you know, an easy way to get my feet wet and see if I would really enjoy her writing.

Well, let me tell you, what an idiot I was for ever doubting! I LOVE these stories! Absolutely love them! They are on the longer end of "short stories," at around 50 pages each, but both that I have read so far have gone quickly because it's just very hard to set the book down.

"Don't Look Now" is the story of a British couple vacationing in Venice. They have recently lost their young daughter, and the husband is hoping this trip will help his wife overcome some of her terrible grief. While at a cafe one day, they meet twin sisters. One of the sisters is blind and claims to "see" the couple's dead daughter sitting with them at lunch. The mother is immediately drawn to the sisters, believing the claim. The husband is certain that these women are up to something, playing on his wife's grief. A series of events, some supernatural, some all too earthly, follow that lead the reader on a fast-paced, suspenseful journey to the truth.

"The Apple Tree" didn't have quite the suspenseful nature of the first story, but it was still an enjoyable read. It centers on a man who has recently lost his wife. But as opposed to grieving his loss, he now feels a new sense of freedom. Freedom from a wife he viewed as long-suffering. Though the reader senses some of the responsibility for his wife's demeanor lies directly at his feet. In his backyard, there is an apple tree. And the man begins projecting onto this tree the traits of his deceased wife. As the story progresses we watch his obsession with this tree grow. While the ending is a bit predictable, it is nonetheless a wonderful tale.

12 comments:

Eva said...

Nocturnes is sooooooo good! You should definitely go get it right away. :D

These sound like fun too.

Dawn said...

I never thought about picking up a collection of short stories. It might make me feel a little more successful as a reader! I seem to like some of the same kind of books you do.

take care,
Dawn

Bellezza said...

Debi, don't give up on Rebecca! It's one of the best books I've read. You will definitely get it, and reread it, in my opinion. Jamaica Inn and The Scapegoat were also goo, but nothing compares to Rebecca..."Last night I dreamed of Manderly..." I think I need to pick it up again.

Bookfool said...

I love Du Maurier, although some of her books/stories are better than others. Jamaica Inn is one of my favorites, along with Rebecca (which is on my All-Time Favorites list) and Frenchman's Creek. Rachel's Cousin was so-so. The House on the Strand was good, but I had trouble with the concept. The Scapegoat sucks, IMHO. I see Bellezza disagrees. I've got Don't Look Now (which, I think, is a different collection of short stories, but it also contains the title story) -- so glad to hear you enjoyed that story -- and I'll Never Be Young, Again. Now, I'm really regretting not joining the RIP III. Oh, well. Things to do and all that. :)

Medbie said...

I adore du Maurier. I've got all her books and have read most of them. Her short stories are so wonderful! The Birds was written by her and then bungled up by Hollywood. You should find it and read it. It really frightened me in a psychological way. I've read and enjoyed both those stories, though I think my favorite by her is the one about the eye surgery (can't remember the name). Have you come across it?

Debi said...

Eva,
I think I definitely will be picking it up. As soon as my dumb book buying ban is over anyway. :(

Dawn,
You shouldn't be so hard on yourself about how much reading you get done. I think you do great, especially considering everything else you do! And I think you'd really enjoy a short story collection of hers!

Bellezza and Bookfool,
Okay...you ladies have me totally convinced! I think Rebecca must be my next du Maurier read! Now that I'm no longer afraid of her. ;)

Medbie,
Cool...I think the story you're talking about must be the one I just started. The Blue Lenses? Afraid I fell asleep before I got more than a few pages in, but now I'm looking forward to getting back to it more than ever!

Nymeth said...

I'm glad you enjoyed these stories! I've never read any Du Maurier, but I mooched both Rebecca and Jamaica Inn thanks to those very same culprits, and I'm really looking forward to reading both.

DesLily said...

...and the blame game continues! lol!

Stephanie said...

Glad to see du Maurier was good to you! I haven't been let down yet!

Carl V. said...

Let's just say that none of us are rational in the quirks we have regarding reading. That is just the way it ends up being. It is part of what makes us all so wacky and loveable.

Sometime this coming week/weekend I'm going to make the short story part 'official'. I'm not sure why I ever left it out!

Trish said...

I've never reading anything by du Maurier before (and honestly hadn't heard of her until a few months ago). I'm glad you liked these short stories! I might have to look for a book of them to get a sample of her writing. I'm awful awful about reading short stories, though. For some reason I always put them off!

Somer said...

Thanks for the nudge! I did actually read a few stories this past Sunday, but have yet to post about them! I'm so behind...