So anyway, this month's focus is on "A Gripping Story Opening in Literature." I've decided to share the opening from Vera Caspary's Laura:
The city that Sunday morning was quiet. Those millions of New Yorkers who, by need or preference, remain in town over a summer week-end had been crushed spiritless by humidity. Over the island hung a fog that smelled and felt like water in which too many soda-water glasses have been washed. Sitting at my desk, pen in hand, I treasured the sense that, among those millions, only I, Waldo Lydecker, was up and doing. The day just past, devoted to shock and misery, had stripped me of sorrow. Now I had gathered strength for the writing of Laura's epitaph. My grief at her sudden and violent death found consolation in the thought that my friend, had she lived to a ripe old age, would have passed into oblivion, whereas the violence of her passing and the genius of her admirer gave her a fair chance at immortality.
My doorbell rang. Its electric vibrations had barely ceased when Roberto, my Filipino manservant, came to tell me that Mr. McPherson had asked to see me.
"Mark McPherson!" I exclaimed, and then, assuming the air of one who might meet Mussolini without trepidation, I bade Roberto to ask Mr. McPherson to wait. Mahomet had not rushed out to meet the mountain.
It poses so many questions, doesn't it? Who on earth is this snooty-sounding Waldo Lydecker, who clearly is almost as infatuated with words as with himself? Who is Mark McPherson? And who, above all, is this murdered woman, Laura?
If you've seen the movie, you know the answers. And, if you've seen the movie, but not read the book, you're probably going, "Whoa, whoa, wait -- Waldo Lydecker narrates the book?! Is this genius or madness?" At least, that was my response the first time I read it ;-) And actually, IIRC, Mark McPherson narrates part of it too, though I must admit it's been more than 6 years since I read this.
I KNOW Heidi said this wasn't supposed to be about movies this month, however! The 1944 movie version is so perfectly cast I must include a couple pictures from it. (Heidi, please don't whack me with a broom or anything.)