Reading Hitchcock - The Trouble with Harry by Jack Trevor Story

harry
harry

I'm not sure I've ever had so little to say about a book I've read than what I do about The Trouble with Harry by Jack Trevor Story. "Eh."

I didn't like it, I didn't hate it. No, the real problem is this: I didn't get it. I suppose my mind isn't wired to fully appreciate farce. I can't stop thinking how much easier it would all be if they'd just do the logical thing and call the police. I remember having pretty much the same reaction to Hitchcock's version. It was okay, had some funny bits, but the humor wasn't broad enough for me to forget the ridiculousness of it all. Overall it was a movie I was happy to say I'd seen so I'd never have to watch it again. Exactly how I feel about the book.

Reading Hitchcock - Psycho by Robert Bloch

Psycho-Overlook
Psycho-Overlook

The problem with reading a book after seeing a movie is constantly comparing the visual medium with the written. In the case of Psycho, the movie is so ingrained in the pop culture consciousness generally, and my mind specifically, it was impossible to read Bloch's psychological mystery fresh. And that's a shame, because it's a very good book with a nice twist. Hitchcock isn't known for faithful adaptations of source material but with Psycho, he stayed true to the book. That's probably because it's a damn near perfect psychological horror novel so well-written I can easily imagine the shock readers felt in 1959, when Psycho was published, when they discovered who the killer really was. As perfect as the movie is, as much as I loved the shock of the movie twist, I'm disappointed I didn't read the book first. For me, there is nothing better than a book that takes me by surprise. Fifty-five years on, with the movie as what people think of when you say "Psycho," and with the shower scene an iconic horror movie moment, there was no way to capture the happy astonishment you feel when a well-crafted story takes an unexpected turn.

Still, Psycho is well worth reading. The characters have a depth not shown in the movie and if you're a writer, you're bound to learn something reading Bloch's tight prose.