Don't Look Now

Ahem, Poe: You might not want to check over your shoulder. Just in time for Halloween -- Daphne du Maurier, the British writer who penned such classics as "Escort," "Don't Look Now," and "The Birds" reappears in a new collection of the odd, eerie and macabre. Du Maurier's output was classic stuff of the 1950s and '60s: Hitchcock used her stories for several films, for instance. She was extraordinarily prolific, but a great deal of her work has been out of print for decades. This collection showcases her cult and not-so-cult classics in all their chilling, uneasy glory. Du Maurier is a master of the peaceful beginning gone wrong -- her stories often launch with would-be landscape paintings of sea or scenery, behind which some awful pressure builds, threatening, like birds' beaks, to puncture. Other times the tales begin with the too-tidy house or the too-foggy night. Yet all her beginnings are full of delicious forebodings: In "Split Second," Mrs. Ellis, the finicky housewife, can't serve her jam to guests without feeling "a little stab of disappointment: it would mean a gap upon the store cupboard." Larger confusions and chaos are in store for her as the world she believes she lives in upends and becomes nightmarish: No amount of domestic order can keep that chaos at bay. Again and again, du Maurier's characters are helpless against the sudden and relentless power of another, more sinister dimension, one that enters through peripheral vision and then encroaches. Best not to look now, or really, ever: Like the evil that rears at the end of the titular "Don't Look Now," it is always too late when seen head on.

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysely Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.

The Promise of Hope

Killed last year in the infamous terror attack at Nairobi's Westgate mall, Kofi Awoonor was a national treasure in his native Ghana.  His career began in 1964 with Rediscovery, and this magnum opus serves as a tribute to his entire long journey charting his beloved nation's course through his accomplished poetry.

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

A pair of linked stories finds that, as translator Ann Jefferson relates, "[Pierre] Michon's great theme is the precarious balance between belief and imposture, and the way the greatest aspirations can be complicated by physical desire or the equally urgent desire for what he calls glory."