2012 May 02 • Wednesday
The Dutch/French film of this book is a masterpiece of horror. The book itself, a mere 108 pages, is also excellent. Both book and movie have their unique strengths. The movie is better at involving the viewer in the horror of the story. It seems more real than the book, which has a dreamlike quality that makes it seem less dangerous, more distant.
But the book lets you get inside the characters' head, giving you knowledge not just of what they think but of how they think. This is particularly effective when it comes to the villain of the piece, one of the most convincing and most terrifying psychopaths in all of fiction.
The story is similar. A young couple stop at a gas station and one of them disappears, vanishes without a trace. Years pass and the man can't forget the woman. He would do anything to find out what happened. This leads up to the terrifying lines, "Now he knew. It was too awful to know".
I'd like to read more of Krabbé. The writing is perfect and of a very high quality, even in English translation. The two main characters are reflections of each other in eerie and mysterious ways, as doomed by and drawn to each other as Shade and Kinbote in Pale Fire.
The first line is "Smooth as spaceships, the cars full of tourists moved south down the long, wide turnpike". The reference to spaceships is significant in that it foreshadows a thread running through the narrative, a dream about flying through the universe trapped in a golden egg. (The Golden Egg is the book's original title.)