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The selected stories of Patricia Highsmith (original 2001; edition 2001)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393327728, Paperback)Penzler Pick, September 2001: One of the truly brilliant short-story writers of the 20th century, Patricia Highsmith has at last received the acclaim she never had while alive.
The release of the excellent film The Talented Mr. Ripley appears to have brought Highsmith many readers who may have heard of her but had never read her books. In spite of the fame of Strangers on a Train, published when she was still in her 20s, Highsmith never enjoyed commercial success in the United States (though she was a huge bestseller in Germany and Austria).
Now, six years after her death at the age of 74, Norton is reissuing her novels and has compiled this giant collection of her short fiction, incorporating the complete text of five previously published collections. This volume also includes an introduction by Graham Greene, somewhat truncated from its original (and uncredited) publication in The Snail-Watcher and Other Stories (1970). It is abbreviated because, oddly, none of the stories from that excellent collection are included in the present omnibus, and Greene makes reference to what is perhaps Highsmith's most famous story, "The Snail- Watcher."
Even lacking this masterpiece and the equally unsettling "The Terrapin," there are many distinguished tales of horror and, as Greene accurately defines them, apprehension.
In "The Hand," the first story in the collection originally published as Little Tales of Misogyny, a young man asks the father of his beloved for her hand and is given it--in a box. Equally unappealing events befall the women (and, indeed, the men) skewered in the other stories in this aptly titled volume, most of which are so short that they are mere vignettes, each startling in the terse clarity of the prose and the matter-of-factness of the fates meted out to the protagonists.
"The Dancer" is strangled in quiet rage by her partner, who walks away from her lifeless body as an audience cheers the performance. "The Coquette" is murdered by the two lovers she had set against each other, and they are let off by a judge who had also been tortured by her coquetry. He forgave their infatuation with her, "a state that inspired his pity, since he had become sixty years old," as Highsmith cruelly explains.
"The Black House," the title story of another collection, introduces a pleasant, happy, and charming young man who is, of course, doomed. He tests his courage by entering a dark house, reputedly haunted and the scene of young lovers' trysts as well as the vicious murder of a boy, and finds it empty and unthreatening. When he describes his adventure to his friends at the local pub, he is killed for a transgression that remains unknown to him.
This important book may not be for everyone, but if you don't mind a sense of unrelenting doom and are willing to risk nightmares of dread, you will find the prose dazzling and the fiction memorable. --Otto Penzler
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:58:54 -0400)
In a cruel twist of irony, Texas-born Patricia Highsmith is only now, six years after her death, being recognized for her inestimable genius in her native land. With the savage humor of Evelyn Waugh and the macabre sensibility of Edgar Allan Poe, she brought a distinct twentieth-century acuity to her prolific body of noir fiction. Called "the poet of apprehension" by Graham Greene, Highsmith was unrivaled in capturing the ways in which our seemingly benign neighbors can become the psychopaths next door. Now, five of her classic short story collections are combined in a single volume, The selected stories of Patricia Highsmith, with a foreword by Graham Greene.
(summary from another edition)
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