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The talented Miss Highsmith : the secret life and serious art of Patricia Highsm
Joan Schenkar
Adult Nonfiction PS3558.I366 Z87 2009

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Author and playwright Schenkar (Truly Wilde) presents a compelling portrait of suspense novelist Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995), whose own life was often as twisted as that of her antihero Tom Ripley. Dispensing with the traditional chronological narrative, Schenkar divides her study into themed sections, which crisscross and mirror each other, embodying the themes of doubling and alter egos in Highsmith's work and life. From her early years in Texas through her time soaking up Manhattan's literary life in the '40s to her self-exile in Europe, Highsmith kept diaries in which she meticulously detailed everything from her myriad female lovers to plot ideas. Pessimistic, alcoholic and chronically unhappy, Highsmith created some of the most chilling tales of psychological suspense and betrayal, including The Talented Mr. Ripley and its sequels, and Strangers on a Train. Schenkar's research is impeccable, and she makes excellent use of the voluminous Highsmith archives in Switzerland and interviews with Highsmith's friends, ex-lovers and literary contemporaries. "Perversion," Highsmith once said, "interests me most and is my guiding darkness," and Schenkar illuminates how her demons played out on the page and in real life. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Playwright Schenkar (Truly Wilde: The Unsettling Story of Dolly Wilde, Oscar's Unusual Niece) has written a meticulous and careful biography of one of 20th-century America's great crime and mystery writers, the author of Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Patricia Highsmith's emotional life was complex and difficult; her lifelong obsession with her relationship to her mother and her homosexuality set the parameters for her travels, friends, lovers, and work. Growing up in Fort Worth, TX, and New York City, Highsmith finally settled in Switzerland. Schenkar, using Highsmith's diaries, notebooks, and writings, tells of her alcoholism, paranoia, depressions, desires, and needs; she is especially good at describing Highsmith's years as a comic book writer and the homosexual culture of the 1940s-50s. Schenkar works through the books, highlighting Highsmith's themes of murder, forgery, identity, doubling, shame, and death while noting the difference between the author's early and best work and her later, inferior writings. VERDICT An imaginative, definitive Highsmith biography, great for literature students, Highsmith fans, and mystery readers.-Gene Shaw, Paramus P.L., NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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