Rosemary’s Baby By Ira Levin

This week, I unintentionally, read two books concerning demonic children. Figuratively, in We Need to Talk About Kevin, and literally in Rosemary’s Baby. When I am exceptionally irritable, I find it useful to read about individuals in situations that are far worse than those of which I myself will likely encounter in life. I’ve probably just jinxed myself and will shortly receive news that I am carrying Satan’s child, but I remain hopeful that the probability of this is minimal at best.
Rosemary’s Baby is another one of those novels that I should have read a long time ago. I had seen the movie in bits and pieces, but never coherently enough to determine its quality. Published in 1967, the novel tells the story of an unassuming young housewife who finds herself knocked up with Satan Jr. Rosemary is initially under the assumption that this is a normal pregnancy. However, some things just aren’t adding up: her neighbors have a borderline obsessive interest in her unborn child, while her husband is not acting like a proud father-to-be. Moreover, the young couple’s apartment building has a less-than savory past steeped in Satanism and death.
It is difficult to read Rosemary’s Baby without questioning Rosemary’s naiveté. Things are very obviously amiss, and yet she is determined to overlook her bizarre neighbors and her cravings for raw meat. Then again, when she does start to voice her suspicions, her sanity comes into question. This is an awesome trick. The whole novel I was annoyed by her excuses, but as soon as Rosemary acknowledges that she may be in danger, she suddenly seems overly paranoid about the whole thing.
Let’s face it – you just can’t go wrong with Satanism. I have a morbid curiosity in the occult that stems from my Catholic School upbringing. Clearly, Catholics frown upon worshipping Satan, so reading these sorts of novels always generates a sneaky sort of glee that can only be derived from looking into something that has long been prohibited. Thus my enduring interest in banned-book lists and books deemed as antagonistic or questioning towards religion.
Of course, I loved this book. I read it in one sitting and was deeply saddened when it ended because I so thoroughly enjoyed the process of reading it. The Audible version is phenomenal, as Mia Farrow herself provides the narration, reprising her film role and truly adding a depth to the novel through her vivid interpretation.
I may take a break from evil offspring for the time being, although it’s been a fascinating week book-wise. As for next week, I plan on switching to more light-hearted literature by delving into the traumatic world of hermaphrodites followed by a return trip to reanimation.
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