Nothing That Meets the Eye: The Uncollected Stories of Patricia Highsmith by Patricia Highsmith - review by Sebastian Shakespeare

Sebastian Shakespeare

The Sting in the Tale

Nothing That Meets the Eye: The Uncollected Stories of Patricia Highsmith

By

Bloomsbury 464pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

This book is a treat. Most of the twenty-eight stories here have never been published before. Others have appeared in a variety of recherché journals, such as German Playboy. Patricia Highsmith made her name as a crime novelist with her debut, Strangers on a Train. It was published when she was twenty-nine and was made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock. Her five Ripley novels cemented her reputation. However she tended to hide her short stories under a bushel – her first collection, Eleven, did not appear until 1970 – and she destroyed many ‘rotten, old stories’ that did not meet her exacting standards. When she died in 1995, unappreciated in her native America, she left behind a huge archive of papers that stretched 150 feet in length. It is a tribute to the editors of this volume that they have ploughed diligently through her files and rescued these tales from oblivion. Two or three of them stand comparison with her best work.

The fourteen early stories, which date from 1938 to 1949, show she had a remarkable facility for the short-story form from an early age. They are complex psychological tales masked by a deceptively simple style. Graham Greene commended her as a poet of apprehension rather than fear. This book provides

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