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Eleven by Patricia Highsmith
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Eleven (1970)

by Patricia Highsmith

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223780,567 (4.08)14
'Eleven' is a collection of masterpieces of Highsmith's particular art, full of compulsion, foreboding and cruel pleasures.

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» See also 14 mentions

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Four stories in and I'm hooked! "The Snail Watcher" creeped me out so much, I had to physically put the book down! And "The Terrapin" did the same, so much so that I have a hard time looking at the book cover now! "When the Fleet Was In at Mobile" had the kind of ending that I LOVE, very Twilight Zone-y with the perfect amount of despair/terror! Another snail terror, a crazy nurse maid, and an evil yuma round out a truly creepy collection! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Jan 23, 2016 |
An author whom I've been wanting to read for a while. She wrote books such as Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr Ripley, and topically The Price of Salt which has just been released as the movie "Carol". She wrote that book under a nom de plume.

Quick read, nice language but not challenging, unusual even whacky stories.

Relaxing and satisfying read.

Now I'm ready for Strangers on a Train! ( )
  martinhughharvey | Dec 2, 2015 |
Eleven
by Patricia Highsmith
with a Foreword by Graham Greene
Atlantic Monthly Press, January 1994

01. The Snail Watcher
02. The Birds Poised to Fly
03. The Terrapin
04. When the Fleet was in at Mobile
05. The Quest for Blank Claveringi
06. The Cries of Love
07. Mrs Afton, among thy Green Braes
08. The Heroine
09. Another Bridge to Cross
10. The Barbarians
11. The Empty Birdhouse

Eleven is a collection of eleven short stories, ostensibly shelved in the “Mystery and Suspense” genre, but really tends to be more in the vein of “Psychological Thriller” or even “Horror.” Mysteries generally develop along the lines of “whodunits”: plots with clues and denouement; whereas Highsmith’s shorts are studies into the dark taint of the human mind. Greed, vanity, paranoia and cynicism are treated in the stories with morbid fascination and leave the reader with a sense of unease and maybe even a shiver of recognition. The stories are disturbing for what they suggest: that each man, woman and even child lives with a fragile tension between their dark natures and societal constraints and; that it doesn’t take much for any individual to tip over and indulge their more horrific aspects. ( )
  Tanya-dogearedcopy | Feb 1, 2014 |
Entertaining, odd stories, a couple of which are agreeably unsettling. Plus, killer snails. ( )
  Michael.Xolotl | Mar 5, 2013 |
This is a remarkable collection of short stories, written at various times between 1945 and 1970. As always with Highsmith, we know from the first page of each that there is something badly wrong with the world we are in. If we had any sense, we would stop reading there and then, but we don't, we're drawn in, and we soon find that it's worse than we thought. Highsmith was a writer who could exploit the possibilities of short and long forms equally well: in these stories she takes full advantage of technical possibilities like calculated departures from strict realism ("The quest for blank Claveringi", "The empty birdhouse"), or plot elements left entirely unexplained ("Mrs Afton, among thy green braes", "The Heroine").

Graham Greene's introduction to this collection compares Highsmith to Saki, and there is definitely something in that: both tend to use animals as a metaphor for the dark, irrational side of life, and in both cases it has a tendency to triumph over civilised, rational human efforts. Maybe Saki never thought of using invertebrates, but Highsmith makes up for that here by having not one, but two stories in which humans are overpowered by snails. Even when the animals are killed, they seem to triumph ("The Terrapin", "The empty birdhouse").

Definitely recommended: but you might not want to read it just before going to bed! ( )
  thorold | Jun 16, 2009 |
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When Mr Peter Knoppert began to make a hobby of snail-watching, he had no idea that his handful of specimens would become hundreds in no time.
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