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Miss Maigret

Patricia Highsmith, 4 October 1984

Intimate Memoirs, including ‘Marie-Jo’s Book’ 
by Georges Simenon, translated by Harold Salemson.
Hamish Hamilton, 815 pp., £14.95, August 1984, 0 241 11219 2
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... This book is already celebrated for its suggestion of an incestuous relationship between Simenon and his only daughter, Marie-Jo, a suicide at 25 in 1978. Any such relationship seems to have been one-sided – on the daughter’s part, and that only in her head. Marie-Jo’s contribution to Intimate Memoirs takes up the last 150 pages, and is called ‘Marie-Jo’s Book ...

Fallen Women

Patricia Highsmith, 21 June 1984

‘Somebody’s Husband, Somebody’s Son’: The Story of Peter Sutcliffe 
by Gordon Burn.
Heinemann, 272 pp., £9.95, May 1984, 0 434 09827 2
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... Gordon Burn gives us no comment of his own on the story he has to tell – just the facts: no speculation as to why Peter Sutcliffe behaved as he did, just the events, the family life, anecdotes that may or may not be pertinent, the pubs and their atmosphere. And we go back, or rather from the beginning of the book we go forward – from Sutcliffe’s grandparents on both sides ...

Lovers on a Train

Susannah Clapp, 10 January 1991

Carol 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Bloomsbury, 240 pp., £13.99, October 1990, 0 7475 0719 8
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... Beryl Bainbridge. All have crime at the heart of their novels. None of them is a crime novelist. Patricia Highsmith is. And in making murder her main point, she has avoided being thought of primarily as a woman novelist. She has made a career of producing books of settled menace, in which acts of homicide surface, almost welcomed, as breaks in ...

Ugly Stuff

Ian Hamilton, 15 October 1981

Beyond the Pale 
by William Trevor.
Bodley Head, 256 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 9780370304427
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The Black House 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 258 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 434 33518 5
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Lantern Lecture 
by Adam Mars-Jones.
Faber, 197 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 571 11813 5
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... said. Strafe agreed, kindly adding, ‘Look dear, if the chap actually interfered with you ...’ Patricia Highsmith’s new collection is as disappointing as her earlier collections, and even the most besotted admirers of her novels must concede that the short story is a form she ought to be restrained from dabbling in. Too many of the pieces in The ...

Death for Elsie

Christopher Ricks, 7 August 1986

Found in the Street 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 277 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 9780434335244
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Private Papers 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 214 pp., £8.95, February 1986, 0 7011 2987 5
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... Patricia Highsmith has been praised by Graham Greene in the good old way as ‘a writer who has created a world of her own’. She can be even better than that – when she takes a world and makes it not only her own but ours. She lurks in the murk where you have to peer to check if this is an – or the – underworld ...

Not a desire to have him, but to be like him

Slavoj Žižek: Highsmith is the One, 21 August 2003

Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith 
by Andrew Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 534 pp., £25, June 2003, 0 7475 6314 4
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... For me, the name ‘Patricia Highsmith’ designates a sacred territory: she is the One whose place among writers is that which Spinoza held for Gilles Deleuze (a ‘Christ among philosophers’). I learned a lot about her from Andrew Wilson’s biography, a book which strikes the right balance between empathy and critical distance ...

Beltz’s Beaux

D.A.N. Jones, 3 March 1983

Marienbad 
by Sholom Aleichem, translated by Aliza Shevrin.
Weidenfeld, 222 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 297 78200 2
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A Coin in Nine Hands 
by Marguerite Yourcenar, translated by Dori Katz.
Aidan Ellis, 192 pp., £7.95, January 1983, 0 85628 123 9
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Entry into Jerusalem 
by Stanley Middleton.
Hutchinson, 172 pp., £7.50, January 1983, 0 09 150950 5
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People Who Knock on the Door 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 306 pp., £7.95, January 1983, 0 434 33521 5
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A Visit from the Footbinder 
by Emily Prager.
Chatto, 174 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 7011 2675 2
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Dusklands 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 125 pp., £6.95, January 1983, 9780436102967
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... Worth, the reader feels sure, is making an entry into temptation, not into triumph. The Jesus of Patricia Highsmith makes his menacing appearance in Chalmerston, Indiana. People Who Knock on the Door is the story of a sort of Christian martyrdom, observed with total lack of sympathy by the victim’s older son, Arthur. Miss ...

First Impressions

Fredric Jameson: Slavoj Žižek’s Paradoxes, 7 September 2006

The Parallax View 
by Slavoj Žižek.
MIT, 434 pp., £16.95, March 2006, 0 262 24051 3
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... anecdotes and reflections; notes on Kafka as well as on mass-cultural writers like Stephen King or Patricia Highsmith; references to opera (Wagner, Mozart); jokes from the Marx Brothers; outbursts of obscenity, scatological as well as sexual; interventions in the history of philosophy, from Spinoza and Kierkegaard to Kripke and Dennett; analyses of ...

Star Turn

Peter Campbell, 2 August 1984

Pitch Dark 
by Renata Adler.
Hamish Hamilton, 144 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 9780241113134
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... her being a woman on her own in an isolated house in a strange country (Daphne Du Maurier out of Patricia Highsmith) is exploited in scenes where it seems things are going on which are being kept from her – but is she imagining it? Then she is in London. There are phone calls about a reconciliation. Later what we have been reading is read by Jake. In ...

Major and Minor

Frank Kermode, 6 June 1985

The Oxford Companion to English Literature 
edited by Margaret Drabble.
Oxford, 1155 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 19 866130 4
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... BC? and is now just eighth cent. BC; hermeticism replaces Hermes, Georgette Heyer the Hexenhammer, Patricia Highsmith Hildesheim or possibly the Heythrop Hunt. Adrian Henri, but not R. McGough or B. Patten, is allowed in, perhaps because he fitted better into the space left by Henri IV. Sometimes both editors are unhelpful, as when Harvey’s inadequate ...

Hiss and Foam

Anne Diebel: Tana French, 26 September 2019

The Wych Elm 
by Tana French.
Penguin, 528 pp., £6.99, September 2019, 978 0 241 37953 0
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... Dublin Murder Squad series. She has been celebrated as a stylish genre defier, in the tradition of Patricia Highsmith and Richard Price – and her books sell. French’s opening salvo was leaving one of the chief mysteries in her first novel, In the Woods, unsolved. Since then, she has demonstrated remarkable range. The classic detective series follows a ...

Pseud’s Corner

John Sutherland, 17 July 1980

Duffy 
by Dan Kavanagh.
Cape, 181 pp., £4.95, July 1980, 0 224 01822 1
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Moscow Gold 
by John Salisbury.
Futura, 320 pp., £1.10, March 1980, 0 7088 1702 5
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The Middle Ground 
by Margaret Drabble.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 297 77808 0
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The Boy Who Followed Ripley 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 292 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 434 33520 7
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... their stultifying families. And it is interesting, in the light of the works reviewed here, that Patricia Highsmith also seems to have been one of those who felt the need to rename herself before going on to make a name for herself as a novelist. With George Eliot – the most famous nom de plume in English fiction – it was not just a case of breaking ...

Irishtown

D.A.N. Jones, 1 November 1984

Ironweed 
by William Kennedy.
Viking, 227 pp., £7.95, September 1984, 0 670 40176 5
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In Custody 
by Anita Desai.
Heinemann, 204 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 9780434186358
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Flaubert’s Parrot 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 190 pp., £8.50, October 1984, 0 241 11374 1
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... dealings with one another while no woman is present: in this she resembles the more hard-hearted Patricia Highsmith. It is not until page 58 that a woman appears – and then she is presented as a shrewish wife. In fact, all three of the principal females are seen as shrewish wives: yet somehow, with considerable subtlety, Anita Desai has written a ...

How criminals think

John Lanchester, 13 September 1990

Love and Death on Long Island 
by Gilbert Adair.
Heinemann, 138 pp., £10.95, July 1990, 9780434006229
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Going wrong 
by Ruth Rendell.
Hutchinson, 250 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 09 174300 1
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The Burden of Proof 
by Scott Turow.
Bloomsbury, 515 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 7475 0673 6
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Crucible of Fools 
by M.S. Power.
Hamish Hamilton, 165 pp., £12.99, August 1990, 0 241 13006 9
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... wrong-doers in thrillers and crime fiction tends to be pretty perfunctorily sketched, and is – Patricia Highsmith excepted – almost invariably told rather than shown. Ruth Rendell’s great strength as a practitioner of the two genres has been her genuine interest in the psychology of the perpetrators of crime, an interest in how criminals think and ...

Diary

Tim Hilton: Art Talk, 19 November 1992

... chatter, ably moderated by, in my time, Roger Alton and then Helen Oldfield. Does anyone know Patricia Highsmith, or who her agent is? Surely Hepzibah can’t be as powerful as all that. I don’t disbelieve you but if we suggested anything of the sort Sotheby’s would megasue the next day. It would be quite wrong not to review lots of ...

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