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The Selected Stories of Patricia Highsmith

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  647 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
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 Graha ...more
Hardcover, 726 pages
Published August 9th 2001 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published August 1st 2001)
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This book contains roughly sixty stories, representing five previously published collections, spanning Highsmith’s career.

Normally I try to resist the whole "the author's life is the key to the work" argument, because it's so obviously rubbish in many, if not most, cases. There are perfect monsters who wrote like angels, and virtue in one's private life is a worthless predictor of literary talent. However, it's hard to watch the parade of pathologicall
Apr 07, 2013 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
700 pages of the most misanthropic writing you'll find, yet I savored each one.
Jul 18, 2009 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 01, 2009 Jaime rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It can be hard to rate an anthology. I would give this 3.5 if I could. Some of the entries here are terribly brilliant (and brilliantly terrible), while others are just ugly...but without that inspired ugliness which is Highsmith's hallmark. I keep her on the shelf where Shirley Jackson and Roald Dahl reside. She shares Jackson's sense of life's sad irony and Dahl's sense of its ridiculousness, but lacks the former's underlying generosity and the latter's wicked glee. Still, when she is good, sh ...more
Jan 10, 2016 Dawn rated it did not like it
To be clear, I'm basing my rating on approximately half of the book as I did not read the rest.

The first section of stories are from an animals view point, I only read one of them before deciding that these were not my kind of stories. I don't and never have liked stories told by animals. Based on the section title describing beastly murders, I assume all of them include murder.

The second set of stories are about misogyny and for the most part are super short, two pages long for the majority o
Gina Rheault
Jun 06, 2016 Gina Rheault rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay. I am not sure who wrote all the episodes of the TV shows The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcok Presents. I know some of them were Roald Dahl, but surely some of them were Patricia Highsmith. The stories are in five sections:

Animal Lovers Book of Beastly Murder. -- fabulous stories of revenge, from the animal perspective. Roald Dahl would approve, as would the PETA people if they could laugh.

Small Tales of Misogyny -- P.H. trashes female "types" she seems to dislike by mocking them in unk
Feb 10, 2016 Brett rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I'm going to try and forget the subsection that contained the stories told from the perspective of pets and owners of murderous pets and just remember everything else. One of the best collections of short stories I've ever read...completely unique view of the world. I have never read anything from Ms. Highsmith prior to this but I'll be reading plenty afterward. Another prejudice falls away since I originally thought of her as "The woman who wrote Hitchcock movies." Compared with the short stori ...more
Dec 16, 2011 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011
I started this book and got about halfway through it before Bangkok flooded and I had to evacuate. The book was just to heavy to pack so I left it behind. Now I'm dry and I finished. Now I'm dry... inside.

Highsmith writes stories that are real. You may call them macabre, disturbing, haunting, but they are real (exception: the section titled 'The Animal Lover's Book of Beastly Murder'... and even some of these are believable).

A book filled with eerily depressing stories has to be read in doses. I
Man Ching
In many ways, Strangers on a Train is a much more satisfying work than Crime and Punishment. In broad strokes, both detail the guilt-wracked protagonists after each committed murder. Guy Haines was browbeaten into committing murder, which seemed a questionable plot point. But what struck me as eminently believable was the way in which Guy's mind grew distraught, even as his life continued apace.

I think it seems in vogue to write about murder as if any one of us can commit it. From my reading, Hi
Mar 31, 2009 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
The stories are divided into sections, the first of which is entitled "Animal Lover's Book of Beastly Murder". It is a series of grisly murders of humans by animals. It is quite interesting at first, the animals are often very sympathetic and it gives a different perspective to the news stories about vicious animal killings. To be perfectly frank, I didn't understand the premise and for the first half a page, thought Chorus Girl was a person rather than an elephant. It's surprising how many diff ...more
Apr 01, 2012 Rupert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In her more than 20 books, Patricia Highsmith created some of the most unsettling tales of human deception and psychological nightmare in recent literary history, halls of mirrors in which appearances and attitudes often have greater weight and consequence than actions do. Highsmith's work possesses the same urgency as that of fellow noir/crime writer Jim Thompson--the reader imagines he or she is experiencing firsthand the blossoming of a psychotic or demented mind. But where Thompson's writing ...more
Aug 03, 2009 Amber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anthology containing:
The Animal Lover's Book of Beastly Murder: YES!!!
Little Tales of Misogyny: Quite unsettling and completely accurate look at humanity.
Slowly Slowly in the Wind: Title story may make you lose sleep.
The Black House
Mermaids on the Golf Course
May 31, 2007 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Shirley Jackson
“I find the public passion for justice quite boring and artificial.” – Patricia Highsmith

Patricia Highsmith’s mother tried to abort her by drinking turpentine. Perhaps this is why she was such a misanthrope. I adore her work.

This brilliant collection of Highsmith’s short fiction includes five previously published collections. These morbid tales showcase Highsmith’s talent at revealing the gruesome underbelly of the seemingly normal and mundane. Whether it is the calculated revenge of mistreated
Beth K.
Oct 12, 2012 Beth K. rated it it was amazing
I copied the following from the summary posted on Goodreads (Barnes & Noble?), only because I don't know how to summarize it better. "...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." (This ex-pat's from Texas y'all!! I didn't even know until I ha ...more
Karl Steel
Of use to me only for the first section, a collection of stories about 'murderous' animals, including a rat, camel, elephant, dog, cat, and perhaps a tapeworm of some sort. Oddly, the animals seem to share her prejudices, all which are multiple and at best embarrassing: against Italians, 'natives,' and so forth.

Otherwise, I just don't get the fascination w/ her. If John Cheever--or Kingsley Amis-had a stupider younger sibling who thought a fascination w/ violence and mere cleverness substituted
Jan 18, 2011 Sandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
My first thoughts were, wouldn't this be a great book for children? Patricia loved animals, much preferring them to people. "My imagination functions much better when I don't have to speak to people."
As I continued reading, the animal stories increased in intensity and violence. True Highsmith was emerging. No, this is NOT a book for children. The stories advance to what I would call character studies..."The Coquette..The Victim..The Breeder...The Prude...The Virgin" What we were asked to do in
2 stories in and I'm wondering "why are the protagonists animals?" Table of Contents check: these are stories from a collection called The Animal Lover's Book of Beastly Murder. That clears that confusion up.
The inevitable cat and dog have shown up, a dip after an elephant and a camel.
I have to complain: I love animals, but I DO get irritated when fellow humans project moral superiority to animals. I've heard tell that Ms. Highsmith had little regard for her fellow Sapiens. I'll try not to let
Delia Lassen
Sep 11, 2015 Delia Lassen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this some years ago, kept my copy and re-read a story here and there occasionally. Highsmith has style. Love 'The Hand'.
Reminded of author by SDMB thread - have read The Black House and the Ripley series & wanted to give her another try.

This is not a collection to read if you're in a dark mood - most stories involve at least one character getting bumped off in one nasty manner or another. Sometimes they deserve it, sometimes they don't; morality is definitely a grey area in the world of Highsmith's short stories.

Worth getting from the library, I suppose - tho I don't know how soon I'll be revisiting any of
Feb 28, 2016 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This collection was a surprise. Her stories are gems, startling and very relatable.
John Sargent
Aug 17, 2015 John Sargent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chock full of wonderful delights. There's not a bad egg in the whole basket.
I started off enjoying this collection. I admire Highsmith's streamlined writing style and the way she leaves it to her characters to expose their darker sides through their actions and words (I loved The Talented Mr. Ripley). The first section of the book, told from the point of view of animals mistreated by humans, was cleverly done, but after awhile the darkness of these stories and the sheer ugliness of the people in them started to wear on me. I felt like the author's own bitterness was pla ...more
Nov 23, 2015 M. marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Aug 27, 2010 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This woman is twisted. I have to wonder if the reason she isn't more celebrated is due to the darkness of her stories. I've read that she is the first mystery writer to foreground the psychological in a serious way, which certainly comes across when reading her, but I'm finding her to be a terrific stylist as well...
She is the man. But this book doesn't make her justice. For a Highsmith beginner, this is too all over the palce. Just grab one of her great novels or a collection of short stories to put a foot in the water. If you're already hooked, this selected stories will not cover much you won't know already.
Leonard Pierce
Feb 02, 2009 Leonard Pierce rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Considering what a fan I am of her long-form fiction, I was pleasantly surprised at how well Highsmith's stuff works in short form. It's got all of the dread and ill feeling that makes her novels so great, but actually manages to avoid some of her bigger flaws. Great stuff.
Aug 25, 2008 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shortstories
The stories from Slowly, Slowly in the Wind and The Black House were perfect, but I wasn't a huge fan of the rest of this collection. Not One of Us, Under a Dark Angel's Eye, and Old Folks at Home are particularly chilling.
contains the short stories from 'Little Tales of Misogyny' and 'Slowly, Slowly in the Wind'. my favourites are the stories from 'The Animal Lover's Book of Beastly Murder'. it's all mostly very dark indeed but the animal stories are a delight.
Kate Martin
Nov 04, 2012 Kate Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highsmith captures some of the very creepy in everyday reactions and relationships. This anthology gathers parts of several short story collections, some of them so dark I almost felt bad for enjoying them. But that's what Highsmith does best.
Sep 06, 2009 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I am now past the dog. cat. camel and pig and they may have been the most interesting characters.
Good writing, but despite what Graham Green says in the introduction, I just can't find myself in Patricia's world.
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Patricia Highsmith was an American novelist who is known mainly for her psychological crime thrillers which have led to more than two dozen film adaptations over the years.

She lived with her grandmother, mother and later step-father (her mother divorced her natural father six months before 'Patsy' was born and married Stanley Highsmith) in Fort Worth before moving with her parents to New York in
More about Patricia Highsmith...

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