Highsmith is amazing. She alludes to Henry James, plays with a Nabokovian style, throws in James Cain's dialogue, and blends it all with a Camus-like..Show More » modern existentialism. Face it, pretenders, The Talented Mr. Ripley is an amazing psychological crime novel. This is one of those books which should be used as evidence to highlight the case that some of the best literature of the 20th Century came out of genre fiction. The novel is high-wire, high-risk, high-reward masterpiece. It leaves me amazed the Cure didn't just write their existential anthem to Highsmith:
I can turn And swim away Or I can raise up my oar Staring at a boat Staring far ashore Whichever I chose It amounts to the same Absolutely nothing.
I'm alive I'm dead I'm lying Tom Ripley Killing a Signor.
While I don't believe 'Ripley Under Ground' is quite on the same level as 'The Talented Mr Ripley' it is still amazing to think about on how many leve..Show More »ls Highsmith is writing. This novel reminds me a lot of Peter Carey's novel 'My Life as a Fake'.
Both novels explore ideas of art, authenticity, fakery, artistic isolation and basic counterfeits of all forms. What happens when the poseur becomes a greater poet/painter than the original? How do we measure art? How thin is the line between truth and fiction?
Anyway, Highsmith deserves to be recognized not just as a hard-boiled crime writer, but as a literary/genre example of Gresham's law. When the gods of fiction made Highsmith, they broke and buried the plates.
While this is probably my favorite Highsmith/Ripley novel so far, it is also the most unsettling. She manages - by introducing a new counter-Narrator ..Show More »(Jonathan) - to make Ripley's amorality seem even more fragile and desolate. Jonathan's wife Simone also stands as an interesting counter-spouse to Heloise. Throughout the novel the twisting and sometimes converging tales of Ripley and Jonathan seem like spinning endless images mirrors. Each narrator reflecting the existential, blood-splattered flatness of the other. It was brilliant and disconcerting at the same time.
This was a slippery Highsmith. Ripley coldly floats between two steep cliffs. He isn't necessarily a likable or even sympathetic narrator, but still m..Show More »anages to be someone it is natural to root for.
With the first three books in the Riplad, I bought into the idea that Tom Ripley was absolutely amoral. But that expecation, that setup, makes this novel seem even more crafty. Highsmith bends genders, flips expecations, dodges emotions, transforms motives, etc., and almost clones Ripley with Frank.
Probably the most disturbing character in the whole series is Tom's wife Heloise. I can sympathize Tom's amorality easy enough, but I just can't UNDERSTAND Heloise. While nothing about her is directly creepy, it is like Highsmith is using Heloise to point a finger at the West or perhaps at the reader.
While not my favorite of the five Ripliad novels, still Highsmith didn't disappoint. Patricia Highsmith is all about atmospherics, setting and slight ..Show More »imbalances. She nuances the reader right to the edge of the pond and then plop, you've fallen into the depths of swanky euro-psychopathy. This is like Camus after he went to an art show, or Sartre after having eaten a really nice afternoon meal with a good vintage red wine.
The Ripley novels are existential ambivalence to the artistic extreme. It is all French mirrors, Tunisian smoke, German duplicity and American control. We can have it all, enjoy life to the hilt. However, we just might need to occasionally kill a friend, steal some art, ignore responsibility, and maybe just maybe let someone take a permanent dive for it all.