08 January 2014

Patricia Highsmith

Patricia Highsmith is one of my favourite prose writers of all time. The Ripley books of course — all five of them — but especially novels like Deep Water, This Sweet Sickness, The Cry of the Owl, People Who Knock at the Door, The Glass Cell, A Dog's Ransom, Found in the Street, The Tremor of Forgery. Every one of her novels is profound and harrowing. When I enter into them, I panic, become almost short of breath at times, but at the same time feel a kind of vertiginous comfort. Is that even possible?

She's one of the few novelists whose books I re-read. I'm a slow reader, and time is limited.

I'm less enthusiastic about her short stories, although the collection Eleven is one hit after another. What is so fantastic about Highsmith is becoming increasingly immersed in the heads of her protagonists, who are often murderous sociopaths, and the stories don't really last long enough for that dark pleasure to take place.

Here's a tiny still-photo documentary about Highsmith by Alexander Roman, with a wonderful voice-over of the author herself.

Over and out.


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