Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Classics of the Macabre by Daphne du Maurier


Though not at all psychic- I have never seen a ghost or dabbled in spiritualism or the occult- I have always been fascinated by the unexplained, the darker side of life. I have a strong sense of the things that lie beyond our day-by-day perception and experience. It is, perhaps, an extension of this feeling that makes me live through the characters that I create.

The Classics of the Macabre(1987) is a collection of scary stories written by the queen of macabre writing, Daphne du Maurier. This book published at her 80th birthday showcases six stories noted for their drama as well as emotional intensity.

In "Don't Look Now" (1970), a couple on holiday meets a pair of twin sisters, who claim that they are psychic. They claim that they can see the couple's recently dead daughter and advises them to go back home. The couple is shocked by the sudden turn of events in which they pay a heavy price for their cynicism.

"The Apple Tree"(1952) is about a man recollecting his dead wife at the sight of an apple tree in his yard. This tree sprang up in the garden after her death and he doesn't like remembering his barren and rather cheerless wife. So he decides to cut down the tree only to put his own life in danger.

"The Blue Lenses" (1952) narrates the story of Marda West who undergoes an eye surgery and has blue lenses temporarily fitted in her eye. To her horror, she can see only animals in the place of her near and dear ones. Her husband and her nurse have changed shape.

"The Birds" (1952) is like a nightmare. Birds come in large numbers and start attacking people. This is the reverse situation of nature attacking human beings.

"The Alibi"(1959) is about a man who is about to kill a family. The woman of the family believes him to be a painter and so he tries his hand at painting. But the evil inside him needs release more than ever.

"Not After Midnight" (1971) is equally scary in that a schoolmaster meets a couple who tell him what happened to the last inhabitant of the place where he lives.

Though most of the stories are scary and unputdownable, the best in this collection are defintely "The Apple Tree" and "The Blue Lenses".

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