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Publisher's Summary

The remarkable renaissance of Patricia Highsmith continues with the publication of Patricia Highsmith: Selected Novels and Short Stories, featuring the groundbreaking novels Strangers on a Train and The Price of Salt as well as a trove of penetrating short stories. With a critical introduction by Joan Schenkar, situating Highsmith’s classic works within her own tumultuous life, this book provides a useful guide to some of her most dazzlingly seductive writing. Strangers on a Train, transformed into a legendary film by Alfred Hitchcock, displays Highsmith’s genius for psychological characterization and tortuous suspense, while The Price of Salt, with its lesbian lovers and a creepy PI, provides a thrilling and highly controversial depiction of “the love that dare not speak its name”. This book firmly establishes Highsmith’s centrality to American culture by presenting key works that went on to influence half a century of literature and film. Abandoned by the wider reading public in her lifetime, Highsmith finally gets the canonical recognition that is her due.

©2011 Diogenes Verlag AG, Zurich; 1993 by Diogenes Verlag AG, Zurich; Introduction 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Patricia Highsmith’s novels are peerlessly disturbing…bad dreams that keep us thrashing for the rest of the night.” (New Yorker)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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Strangers on a Train

I wanted to read Strangers on a Train because I love the noir film classic based on this book. It was interesting because Patricia Highsmith is a master at painting the slow downward spiral, the menace in the every-day, and the grim experience of late stage alcoholism (note to self: it does not look like fun). But it needs editing. The same scenes repeat themselves too often and the protagonist goes over the same ground and comes to the same decisions over and over again. The book just doesn't get down to business and go where it's going. By the end I was weary enough of the story that I didn't much care how it came out.

I didn't care for Bronson Pinchot's reading. In trying to produce southern accents he made the southerners sound bored - not southern. Also, he used a particular lilting drag for the bad guy, the faithful woman, and the private eye. These are all very different characters who should have to some extent their own voices, or at least not the same odd drawn-out way of speaking that makes them blend together. And I wish men readers would just read women's voices normally - Pinchot, like some other men I've heard, tries to make it clear this is a female voice by making it breathy or whiny. The female voices were annoying.

17 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Peace
  • New York Metro area
  • 04-11-15

Long before "Carol," I admired and respected Ms. Highsmith

Her writing is sublime. Her stories rich with authentic emotional details. The angst of life and moral dilemmas vividly detailed. This is a full measure of her talent for real life storytelling. She captivates you with problematic characters which you can hold up to your self mirror. Sheer rather gruesome delight.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Dark, Sad and Unhappy Stories

This collection of stories and novels were unpleasant listening. Stilted, overly sad and terribly dark. I agree with another reviewer that they entered the creepy zone--and not in a good way. Recommended only if you are looking for an exploration of Noir sadness--otherwise I'd avoid. Depressing.

26 of 38 people found this review helpful

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  • Carole
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 08-29-11

Highsmith: Her Name Reflects Her Craft

I learned much about her private life and pathological relationship with her mother. While she was strange in her personal life, that same quality exists in her writing which also demonstrates her intelligence, her focus on resourceful/unique characters, settings, and creative and unique plots which usually hinge on at least one amoral or sociopathic character. She follows with meticulous logic from beginning to the end of the story and her writing is fairly literary and compelling to read.

11 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Joy
  • Lodi, NJ, United States
  • 09-29-11

Patricia Highsmith: Selected Novels and Short Stor

I bought this because I wanted to read Strangers on a Train. I'm sorry I did I think Alfred Hitchcocks version is much better.

main reason not to buy this book The length is achieved by reading the same stories twice

9 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • au
  • CA
  • 08-11-12

Good interpretations

What made the experience of listening to Patricia Highsmith the most enjoyable?

As a Highsmith fan, I'd already read most of these stories myself. I don't normally listen to stories but I got this Audible because in listening to another person read to you, you pick up different nuances to the story and somewhat of a different interpretation as well. That proved true here to great effect, although it can be a little jarring to have an idea of what a character sounds like in your head be different to that of the narrator's interpretation!

Did Bronson Pinchot and Cassandra Campbell do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

I think audio narrators should stick to making voices for only characters of their own gender. Pinchot mimicking women's voices and Campbell mimicking male voices was, for the most part, unintentionally hilarious. While it was entertaining it took away from the listening experience and from the story.

Pinchot uses the same slow drag which made different characters' dialogue run together. Campbell was all right, though I was disappointed in her "Carol" (The Price of Salt) voice which came off a little too nasally and high whereas in the story it's described as sultry and dark.

Aside from that, the narration was just fine.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Elena
  • seattle, WA, United States
  • 03-20-11

Narrator is fantastic

the voice of Bruno, in Strangers on the Train, is perhaps the best audio narration I have ever heard . . .

10 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Patrick
  • Kitchener, ON, Canada
  • 09-23-12

Excellent Performance of Terrible Story

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

The only people who will enjoy this kind of book are the people who will be fascinated by Patricia Highsmith the author and her creation of "Highsmith Country". But for my tastes, it's a needlessly nasty world and I have no intention of ever returning to it.

What was most disappointing about Patricia Highsmith’s story?

Guy Haines is, to use a childish term, a sissy. Here the moron gets letters from Bruno—handwritten, presumably signed letters, which probably have fingerprints all over the place!!!—which map out a proposed murder, tell Guy what to do, give tips on how to escape the murder scene, etc. Bruno even sends him a gun!!! And what does our hero do, ladies and gentlemen? Surely he would call the police, for presumably, coercion into murder was illegal in the 1950s, even if there were no laws against stalkers? Heck, no! He does the only reasonable thing: destroy the evidence!No question of it: Guy Haines wins the Darwin Award for 1950. The entire novel is a situation of Guy’s own making. You can make the argument that it makes for a compelling character study, an allegorical novel of good and evil within each man. I make the argument that Guy is a moron. Here he is with physical proof that Bruno has killed his wife and is trying to get him to commit a murder—he’s in the position of strength! Instead, he destroys the evidence and then whines about how his guilt haunts him. In the Hitchcock film, Guy had a reason for being frightened of Bruno, who was capable of framing Guy by planting false evidence and threatened to do so, leaving nothing behind for Guy to use against him. The movie Guy is a likeable hero, caught in a perilous situation. The book Guy? I say he can go straight to that not-so-great-place-opposite-of-heaven.In the Hitchcock film, Bruno at first seems to be a charming fellow, and his proposed murder scheme sounds like a joke. That’s how Guy and the audience choose to take it at first, and that makes the murder shocking. But in the novel, Bruno is an obvious psychopath—you can spot his insanity at twenty paces. He’s never charming—he’s an annoying little brat. You have no idea why Guy would have a conversation with him in the first place. Not even Guy understands it, although he’s the one who follows Bruno to his compartment in the train and they have dinner together. When Bruno demands that Guy commit his murder, it isn’t the demand of a dangerous murderer but the petulant tantrum of a spoiled child. I had a hard time finding the suspense that is supposed to permeate this novel.And the book, incidentally, drags on and on AND ON!!! The pace is snail-like and gets extremely boring. After the two murders are committed, you simply have no idea why Guy and Bruno would keep seeing each other. No wait—if they didn’t see each other you couldn’t have any obvious SYMBOLISM!!! The entire novel feels like the author is trying to write Literature with a capital L, but she doesn’t succeed.Strangers on a Train became a nasty story about nasty characters being nasty to each other for no reason other than “the plot says so”. Oh, and Bruno? Not only is he an obsessive homosexual with clear mental issues, he’s also in love with his mother. (How does that work???)I didn’t like either of the two male leads, and nobody else is worth talking about. Patricia Highsmith was not a happy person, and it shows in this book. But instead of making me interested in her characters, this aspect made me want to get them all in a secluded alleyway and open fire on them with a tommy gun.

Have you listened to any of Bronson Pinchot and Cassandra Campbell ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No I haven't, so I will only comment on the narration of this book alone. I did not bother continuing past STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, narrated by Bronson Pinchot. His performance is excellent but unfortunately the material itself is terrible. The narration manages to make the novel bearable, however, but I simply couldn't proceed any further with the stories. It's no fault of the narrator's.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger certainly, at the author and her insipid characters. Perhaps some disappointment because I was hoping to enjoy the book. But apart from that, once all is said and done... I was left indifferent.

Any additional comments?

Perhaps the other stories and novels in this collection are worthwhile, but I couldn't get past the first. Patricia Highsmith is an "acquired taste"-- meaning one that some people will never acquire!

4 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Anita
  • RICHMOND, TEXAS, United States
  • 01-27-12

Mixed review

I have mixed feelings about this book. After seeing the movie years ago, I wanted to listen to Strangers on a Train. It was my favorite story in the book. Several of the short stores were interesting. The Price of Salt was my least favorite. A brave subject to write about because of the decade it was written. I found the story drawn out and boring with too much dialogue. The two narrators did a good job. The only reason I gave the book 4 stars was because of Strangers on a Train.

3 of 7 people found this review helpful

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This was the first time I tried Ms. Highsmith. I bought the book for Strangers on a Train because of the movie. The underlying story was fine but I had difficulty staying interested because of the extensive time spent in the protagonist's mind and not pursuing the story. I did listen to all of Strangers because I wanted to see how it ended. I tried one or two of the short stories but could not develop any interest in them. Then, the Price of Salt bored me to tears. I quit within 20 minutes of starting Salt as the story itself had gone nowhere. While she may be considered an accomplished writer, I could not get interested in the characters or story.

I only gave Stranger on a Train three stars for story. What I did listen to beyond that got zero stars for story.

3 of 8 people found this review helpful