30 November 2010
Norman lives in the house on the hill above his motel off the old highway. Travelers take the new highway that is a far distance away from the motel, so Norman rarely gets a guest to stop by and stay.
Except for Mary. Mary's escaping from her job, the boredom of her life, and with forty thousand in cash that she stole from her sexist boss. She's taking this money to see Sam, her fiance, and she's trading in one used car after another to throw the police and others off her tracks. It's not like her to do something like this -- after all, she's given up her own future to make sure that her sister, Lila, gets to go to college, and succeeds with more opportunities than Mary ever had.
Less than twenty miles from her fiance's town, Mary decides she'll stop to rest at a small motel. She'll get much needed sleep and freshen up. Tomorrow, she'll surprise her fiance with a made-up inheritance story and help to get him out of debt so they can marry. Unfortunately, she's picked Norman's motel to stay the night.
It's a short story at around 175 pages, and in this short telling, it is without a doubt, utterly terrifying. Particularly when the story is told from Norman's perspective. He's quite an innocent, and his blackouts are written so genuinely that you truly do believe that Mother is really the problem. But the problem is that people think Mother's been dead for twenty years. An astute study in the question of when -- when does a person like this become who they are? Who shapes them to be this way? In several ways, it's a dated book, but overall, it feels strangely fitting even reading it today. Robert Bloch's tale of terror is frightening in its simplicity, and incredibly disturbing in several sections. Had I read this story (inspired by the true life of Ed Gein) during the creepy month of October, I daresay I would have slept much.
No wonder Hitchcock brought this story to a visual medium.
Other fabulous blog reviews:
Book, Line, and Sinker
The Literary Lollipop
Coffee and a Book Chick