Book Group, Books, Quotes

Book 160: Rosemary’s Baby – Ira Levin

Levin, Ira - Rosemary's BabyWhat a messed up novel. And I mean that in a really good way. Like I’m shaking my head saying to myself, ‘What in the world?’ I mean seriously, where do authors come up with ideas like this? I’m sure Levin at some point discussed it in an interview, but I don’t really want to know it’s that strange.

(Also, in honor of the occult in this novel, I’m posting this on 12/12/12 at 12:12. Haahaa! – It just happened to be ready to be posted on 12/12/12 and I was like might as well post it at 12:12)

I read Rosemary’s Baby for our Books into Movies book group at the local library, and for lack of a better word, it was an interesting read. Perhaps strange is a better word, or odd, but not like oh this is strange, but like what a strange ass story. Regardless, this book once again reaffirms why I am glad that I participate in a book group with such a wide range of individuals. It takes me out of my reading comfort-zone and introduces me to some pretty interesting and weird novels. I’m strangely looking forward to the film if only because it is such an iconic thriller, and from the introduction I know that it stays close to the book.

What I really enjoyed about the novel was the writing. Levin has such a succinct and clear writing style and point of view it made reading this novel a breeze. The introduction describes Levin’s writing style as follows,

“He wrote brilliantly in every literary field in which he worked, his sentences models of precision, making up what they lacked in velvety, mandarin, overripe prose with clarity and forward movement, with never a wasted word.”

Aside from the writing the story was well planned and revealed just enough evidence throughout to give the reader a head’s up, but not so much that you 100% believed Rosemary’s point of view. Levin did a great job of only giving just enough to make her view plausible, but not irrefutable.

Aside from Levin’s writing, I enjoyed the random societal references to homosexuals. Written and released in the 1960s there were a couple of interesting/entertaining references to the sexual culture of the time,

  • “Dubin and DeVore were homosexuals; everyone else seemed entirely commonplace”(25)
  • “‘And the neighbors certainly don’t seem abnormal,’ she said. ‘Except normal abnormal like homosexuals; there are two fo them.'” (33)
  • “He went over to the bookshelves, stretched up, and put it as high as he could reach, across the tops of the two Kinsey Reports.” (181)

And it is the third one that is most interesting to me, because of how pervasive those studies were in the late 50s/early 60s. They’re just casually mentioned here on a bookshelf and it just made me realize how commonplace they were.

Recommendation: Definitely check it out. It’s only 245 pages and there isn’t a chapter over 20 pages, so it’s a quick read for sure. The story is also interesting and it held my attention pretty steadily throughout.

Opening Line: “Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse had signed a lease on a five-room apartment in a geometric white house on First Avenue when they received word, from a woman named Mrs. Cortez, that a four-room apartment in the Bramford had become available.”

Closing Line: “The Japanese slipped forward with his camera crouched, and took two, three, four, pictures in quick succession.” (Whited out.)

Additional Quotes from Rosemary’s Baby
“‘The costumes, the rituals,’ Mr. Castevet said; ‘every religion, not only Catholicism. Pageants for the ignorant.'” (56)

“He was an actor, could anyone know when an actor was true and not acting?” (94)

“On the third day she thought about him. He was vain, self-centered, shallow, and deceitful. He had married her to have an audience, not a mate.” (99)

“Like so many unhappinesses, this one had begun with silence in the place of honest open talk.” (100)

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