Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Everything I Consume: Fright

I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed reading Cornell Woolrich. He's just so creepy. All his novels and stories seem to involve questions of sanity and what really happened. Characters are always trapped with no way out. Often main characters are suspected of a crime and they're pretty sure they didn't do it but not totally. And the books end with a cruelly ironic twist that could put The Twilight Zone to shame. In The Bride Wore Black the main characters husband is killed on their wedding day. She spends years chasing down the men she believes responsible for his death only to find out at the end it was an accident and she's been killing the wrong people. That's cold and I think you have to be pretty cold to write something like that.

Woolrich's writing could be a little stiff and over-the-top with the plot proceeding proceeding at a glacial pace. I admit I was getting a little tired of Fright as it reached it's climax. Sometimes he seems like he's padding and it seems a little weird out of context but on the whole his books are very suspenseful. For example:

Death of a chocolate bar. Death and burial of a chocolate bar. Death of a man? What was the difference? Death was death, always death.
Woolrich's books inspired some great movies like Rear Window, Phantom Lady and The Leopard Man.

Anyway, back to Fright. It's about a man who sleeps with woman who then blackmails him. She keeps coming back for more until on his wedding day, he's taken all he can take and kills her. But things don't get any better as his fear of getting caught takes over and destroys his life. I liked it and recommend it but it's not as good as the best Woolrich like Black Alibi, Black Path of Fear and Deadline at Dawn. The main character just gets worse and worse and it pained me to read about how awful he made the life of his wife.

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