BOOK ♪ Eleven ☨

Fantastic collection Almost every story left me shocked and impressed, with a lingering sense of dread and closure Most of these should be counted directly horror stories, to be honest, they hit harder than a great many scary collections, and the terrapin story is just heartbreaking Two of the stories also involve terrifying snail encounters and they re both awesome Dealing with our own personal mental traps, and the effects of casual callousness Every story cuts just as you re catching your breath, on a knife edge of shocked realisation In short, these are seriously impressive and I can t recommend them highly enough. 3.5 BOOK ♁ Eleven ♴ The Legendary Writer Patricia Highsmith Is Best Remembered Today For Her Chilling Psychological Thrillers The Talented Mr Ripley And Strangers On A Train A Critically Acclaimed Best Seller In Europe, Highsmith Has For Too Long Been Underappreciated In The United States Starting In , Grove Press Will Begin To Reissue Nine Of Highsmith S Works Eleven Is Highsmith S First Collection Of Short Stories, An Arresting Group Of Dark Masterpieces Of Obsession And Foreboding, Violence And Instability Here Naturalists Meet Gruesome Ends And Unhinged Heroes Disturb Our Sympathies This Is A Captivating, Important Collection From One Of The Truly Brilliant Short Story Writers Of The Twentieth Century Otto Penzler Includes An Introduction By Graham Greene I want to read everything Patricia Highsmith ever wrote.I loved these stories Highsmith has a very twisted view of humanity and I love it.Her prose is so crisp I want to roll around in her sentences There s so much control here She knows exactly what she s doing every word of every sentence It s amazing. I thoroughly hated these stories I love Highsmith s writing, but this book was just awful I didn t care for any of the themes or characters and overall, this was a disappointment. I was won over as I read the Foreword by Graham Greene Her characters are irrational, and they leap to life in their very lack of reason suddenly we realize how unbelievable rational most fictional characters are as they lead their lives from A to Z, like commuters always taking the same train The motives of these characters are never inexplicable because they are so drearily obvious The characters are as flat as a mathematical symbol We accepted them as real once, but when we look back at them from Miss Highsmith s side of the frontier, we realize that our world was not really rational as all that Suddenly with a sense of fear we think, Perhaps I really belong here,and going out into the familiar street we pass with a shiver of apprehension the offices of the American Express, the centre, for so many of Miss Highsmith s dubious men, of their rootless European experience, where letters are to be picked up though the name on the envelope is probably false and travelers cheques are to be cashed with a forged signature Eleven short stories comprise Eleven. Each original, some creepy and all unable to be discussed here because it doesn t take much to reveal spoilers in a story 10 or 15 pages long She can capture anxiety and suffering better in a few paragraphs than many can do with a novel But, without wanting to reveal too much, included are two fantastic stories about snails and a warning to moms who make their sons wear short shorts. Contains two of the best short stories about snails I have ever read. This was Patricia Highsmith s first collection of short stories, and each tale seems to focus on her specialty, which was that of obsession and compulsion Much like her second collection, Little Tales of Misogyny the only other one I ve read thus far , in which every story in some way focuses on attributes or archetypes of femininity that society teaches us to disdain, each of the eleven stories in Eleven explores bizarre urges and dark corners of the human mind you d much rather look away from While nowhere near as memorable as her novels, these still provide small glimpses of the strangeness this brilliant but unlikable woman was fascinated by, and some will certainly unsettle Graham Greene describes Highsmith s forte better than I ever could in his excellent introductionMiss Highsmith is the poet of apprehension rather than fear Fear after a time, as we all learned in the blitz, is narcotic, it can lull one by fatigue into sleep, but apprehension nags at the nerves gently and inescapably We have to learn to live with itWhat struck me most about this collection is that despite her usually trading in psychological crime, and these stories being miniature psychological thrillers in their own right, quite a few of them were firmly rooted somewhere in a hard to define horror genre her prose is carefully planned, no word is wasted or misplaced, and the result are stories of such a disturbing intensity that they engulf the reader to the point that they feel claustrophobic, despite the often very mundane subject matter The Snail Watcher Highsmith kept something like 300 snails as pets, and this autobiographical element might in part be responsible for making this one, while perhaps not the best, certainly the most memorable of all the stories included A broker watches the increasing number of snails he keeps at home with a curiosity that comes to border on voyeurism and turns into a fixation I read it with mounting horror while feeling the deepest levels of physical revulsion I can t recall any other short story that managed to disgust me to such an extent with so little, and I m not at all surprised that it took her over a decade to find someone willing to publish it The Birds Poised to Fly Inspired by Highsmith s own holiday affair with a female British doctor who then never replied to her letters, it s the story of a man who reacts to being disappointed in love with a cruel deception One of the stand outs for me The Terrapin The most brutal of the stories included, it s about a child standing up to his overbearing and belittling mother when she brings home a turtle he mistakes as an unexpected present of a pet, but which is actually meant to be cooked for dinner Violent and irrational, the ending to this one was superbly chilling When the Fleet Was in at Mobile Graham Greene singles this one out as his favorite in the introduction, and I m inclined to agree A woman chloroforms her tyrannical and alcoholic husband, leaving him for dead, and makes a break for freedom but as we should by now know, there are rarely happy endings in Highsmith s mind The Quest For Blank Claveringi Easily the most bizarre of the bunch, it s about a man who travels to a remote island with the dream of discovering a new species of snails to name after himself It s another story where the protagonist is menaced by shelled gastropods in this case, giant man eating ones The Cries Of Love Another odd, but ultimately rather forgettable one Two elderly women who desperately fear dying alone and can t bear being apart take delight in destroying the other s most prized possessions Mrs Afton, Among Thy Green Braes If I had to pick, this one would be my least favorite, not because it s bad, but rather because it completely failed to make an impression one way or the other I had to check my book to even remember what it was about A well mannered, middle aged lady consults a psychiatrist on behalf of her husband The Heroine My other favorite in the collection was actually the story against which Highsmith measured all of her writing in the 1940s she was so pleased with it that she eventually came to see it as a curse, as she felt that it overshadowed her output for a whole decade A young and eager nanny loves her new family and the children in her care so much that she wants nothingthan a chance to prove her devotion Another Bridge to Cross Yet another instance where I had to check the book to remember what this one was about I enjoyed it while reading it, but it clearly wasn t very memorable An American man is adrift in Europe following the loss of his wife and son The BarbariansI can imagine this being one of the overlooked ones, but it was one of the tales that made me the most anxious, perhaps because its mundanity made it all therelatable It explores what s essentially bullying, and the strain that a constant threat of violence puts on someone The Empty BirdhouseIn a story that was a bit of a suburban nightmare come true, featuring a slight touch of the supernatural, an unknown, evil looking animal spotted first in their empty birdhouse reminds a couple old their repressed guilt All my book reviews can be found here Buy on BookDepository Eleven is a collection of short stories written by one of the most iconic female authors of the crime fiction genre, the American Patricia Highsmith The anthology is prologued by another top crime writer, Graham Greene , who juxtaposes the Highsmithian universe with that of the classics, Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett He writes This is a world without moral endings It has nothing in common with the heroic world of her peers, Hammett and Chandler, and her detectives have nothing in common with the romantic and disillusioned private eyes who will always, we know, triumph over evil and see that justice is done This is an accurate description of Highsmith s literary world and characters and this is the most appropriate context to have in mind when reading those dark, often borderline disturbing, short stories I enjoyed most The Snail Watcher , The Terrapin , and The Heroine If you are a Highsmith fan this is a must for you. I love this book Highsmith reminds me of Shirley Jackson Same obsession with people who overestimate their capabilities, make bad decisions, and become ensnared in some unspeakable horror For perhaps obvious reasons, I had to stop reading But excellent writing Reading this book also makes me want to finish my Jackson article another reason, naturally, to stop reading the book.