Aug 27, 2021

Psycho is an old-school horror story about an unremarkable man named Norman Bates. The author Robert Bloch set the story in an old, rundown motel on the side of a long-forgotten highway in Fairvale, Texas. Psycho is told in a third-person omniscient POV where the various chapters capture distinct characters’ thoughts and perspectives.

Norman has a strange relationship with his mother, who is always tearing him down. The book opens with his mother assaulting him with a barrage of demeaning insults for his reading of material that she considers filthy. Luckily for Norman, a buzzer interrupts her tirade, signaling that there is a customer awaiting a motel room.

Norman finds a woman waiting in the motel office who needs a room. Her name is Mary Crane, and she has arrived in the heavy rain after a long travel. Mary is on the run, having stolen a large sum of money from the client of her employer. She was at the motel to meet her fiancé named Sam. Norman is unaware of the money in her possession.

After she checks in and goes to her room, Norman watches her undress through a small peephole in his office. While he is peeping, he is also drinking, and he falls asleep. When he finally wakes up, he finds Mary’s dead body. He knows it was his mother. He quickly ponders whether to turn in his mother to the police. Norman cannot stand the idea of not being with his mother, so he decides not to turn her in. He decides to cover up the murder. 

Well, long story short ***SPOILER ALERT*** Norman has a split personality he is a Mother. He became this alternate self to deal with killing his mother and her lover, Uncle Joe.

I enjoyed this story. I have seen the Alfred Hitchcock version many times and I love the movie. It pleasantly surprised me that the book was so very different from the movie. It was like reading a different story. I like the fact that I was not simply reading a different version of the movie. It kept me on my toes and I could drop my preconceptions right for the get-go.

A few interesting things that I noticed. First, I enjoyed how Bloch used light and shadow wot portray how the characters were feeling and where they were emotional. I have never seen that type of imagery in a story.

Second, I thought it interesting how Norman believed he possessed the power to take or give life. Like suspended animation. This is how he believed he could kill his mother and then bring her back. He spoke of it in the story “Life is a force, too, a vital force. And like electricity, you can turn it off and on, off and on. I’d turned it off, and I knew how to turn it on again. Do you understand me?”

Overall, I enjoyed this book as it exceeded my expectations. I would consider reading other material by Bloch. I also like Norman Bates as a character. He is so simple on the surface, but there is so much going on inside.