Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Pagans Pages and Perspicacity

Ira Levin's ground breaking, suburban horror Rosemary's Baby shoved horror from the gothic into modern world as a young couple become encircled by a clucky bunch of Satanists after moving into a plush NYC apartment block. Regarded as a classic, in part no doubt, because of Polanski's superlative adaptation it's a gripping, creeping urban nightmare and although it seems a little trite now, still has plenty of chills left in the tank. Like Levin's other novels, it's written with a direct, spartan prose that's lean and effective and though the film's success meant I was familiar with denouement, the slow creeping dread about Rosemary's predicament and the subsequent finale is wonderfully paced and packs a punch.

I've always found Richard Wiseman a little irksome but his book, Quirkology, goes a fair way in improving my opinion of the diminutive boffin. Basically a loose gazetteer of the more unusual corners of psychological research Wiseman gathers together some interesting studies that paint a decidedly counter-intuitive picture of our minds and lives. Covering the psychology of laughter, online dating, birthdays, surnames and a whole plethora of other odd little topics Wiseman strings things together with a breezy, humorous tone but still manages to point out some of the more serious consequences of our mental myopia. A great little primer for those interested in psychology.

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