Sunday, December 23, 2012

TC Tidbit: Hitchcock Movies Paired With Books

Craig Popelars of Algonquin Books shares a lovely  "pairing" piece by author Manuel Munoz.

Hitchcock Pairings by Manuel Munoz

The recent release of Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, might inspire readers to delve into the Master's film trove, and maybe even hunt for the books that brought us those movies. But citing the source material for Psycho or Rebecca wouldn't be much fun. Better yet to encourage readers to think of the ways in which "Hitchcockian" can describe so many of our greatest books.

Like Suspicion? Try Peter Cameron's Coral Glynn
As in Rebecca, Hitchcock presented a new bride with a marriage haunted with dread and tension. In Cameron's adept, sleek novel, the spirit of the English mystery is invoked in grand style, full of strange turns, surprising revelations, and taut encounters. One of 2012's best books.

Like Marnie? Try Elfriede Jelinek's ThePiano Teacher
True, the marvelous director Michael Haneke presented a superb adaptation in 2002.But if the psychological daring of Hitchcock's last great picture is of any intrigue, Jelinek's terse, brutal prose demonstrates how the written word might be better at showing us the withering power of ferocious desire.

Like The Wrong Man? Try Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist
Thematically, any number of films could highlight Hitchcock's obsession with a man trying to clear his name. Whitehead's terrific first novel shares a piercing noir style, a big city atmosphere, and more important a marvelous player at center stage. If you haven't yet encountered Lila Mae Watson, the city's only African-American elevator inspector, now's the time.

Like Rope? Try Muriel Spark's The Driver's Seat
Macabre, disarming humor is at the center of both of these works. In Spark's slender 1970 novel, Lise runs off to Italy with a dark plan in mind, only to find it nearly impossible to pull off. A little masterpiece of tone and pacing, Spark's novel shows us the outcome almost from the onset, leaving us with moral questions about what we're willing to witness.

Like Frenzy? Try Joyce Carol Oates's High Lonesome: New and SelectedStories
Maybe it's crude to pair one of Hitchcock's lesser efforts with a book that should hold a permanent place on any reader's shelf. But where Hitchcock is content to show us only the discovery of a body floating in a river, Oates goes after the repercussions ("The Fish Factory") or upends the whole notion of a "Hitchcock heroine" by exposing crippling self-interest ("Life After School," "Concerning the Case of Bobby T."). And yes, her famous "Fat Man My Love" gives us Hitchcock in all his robust, self-styled glory.

Manuel Muñoz's own Hitchcock pairing, What You See in the Dark, was published  Algonquin Books in 2011. Like the just released Sacha Gervasi film, it goes well with Psycho.

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