Rope

By Peter Swanson

Poem

Please take away the stench of Scotch,
The horror of champagne, the idle chat,
The skyline in its Technicolor dusk.
Take me back to when I didn’t do it,

To when I didn’t know how surprised
A man looks when, with certainty,
He knows he is about to die,
And does not understand the reason why.

It would seem Alfred Hitchcock is silhouetting himself into the public consciousness once again. He’s everywhere these days. For one thing, Vertigo recently (finally!) rose above Citizen Kane to top Sight and Sound Magazine’s best movies of all time. All time. The end. For another, there are Hitchcock biopics aplenty on the horizon. On October 20, HBO premieres The Girl, based on Tippi Hedren’s account of working with Hitch on The Birds, and the feature film Hitchcock — starring Scarlett Johansson, Helen Mirren, and Anthony Hopkins as the man himself — hits the big screen November 23. Behold, the trailer:

New Mexico, the land of paranormal conspiracy, provides the perfect backdrop for the latest novel from Edgar-finalist Robert Arellano. Having tackled surrealist Dickinsonian parody in Fast Eddie, a retelling of Don Quixote in Don Dimaio of La Plata, and Cuban-noir in Havana Lunar, Arellano moves into territory previously settled by the early films of Alfred Hitchcock and The Twilight Zone. Call it paranormal noir, but don’t go thinking that means aliens are around the corner. Curse the Names is much more concerned with the psychological devastation wreaked upon its protagonist than some hokey other-worldly beings.

Hospital hallways are a special kind of convoluted, methodical in their turns meant to deposit visitors with mysterious efficiency at a set of double doors affixed with red “no” signs.It seems like a mistake when I finally arrive at these doors, squinting at the walls in hopes of spotting a magic button, but it’s exactly the right place.Someone swipes a card in a slot near the knob.The doors open with a hesitant jerk.“Go to the very end.Last room to your left,” a nurse says, the soft splat splat of her shoes receding amidst whirs and beeps and white light.The white of seventies sci-fi shows.The coldness of unclasped hands.This is exactly the right place.