The Talented Miss Highsmith

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Fiction writer Patricia Highsmith had a life as dark and compelling as that of her favorite character, the talented Tom Ripley. Biographer Joan Schenkar describes Highsmith’s secretive life and how it influenced her writing, including her popular novels Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Her book is The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith.

Event: Joan Schenkar will be speaking and signing books, and actress Kathleen Chalfant will be reading
Wednesday, December 9, at 7:00 pm
Barnes & Noble, Upper West Side
2289 Broadway, at 82nd Street


Joan Schenkar

Comments [5]

A. from Boston

The guest is as creepy as her own version of Highsmith. Like Highsmith, she seems devoid of the capacity for empathy. If you are going to spend a big chunk of your career writing about someone, especially someone who clearly suffered as much as Highsmith did, and you can't even view that person as a human being (she sprung full-formed from the womb? and is not to be viewed as having "developed" even in the sense of being profoundly affected by the extremely difficult circumstances of her formative years?), but only care whether (to quote the guest's constantly repeated mantra) Highsmith was "interesting," you have a serious deficit. I hope this biographer has spent at least a little time asking herself why she is drawn to this particular subject's life story. Her affected way of speaking was also bizarre.

Dec. 09 2009 01:35 PM
Jay Winer from Dobbs Ferry

Patricia Highsmith was hardly the first modern writer to publish a "lesbian novel" in the U.S. Radclyffe Hall's famously "scandalous" "The Well of Loneliness," for example, was published in the 1920's.

Hall was British. Did Ms. Schenkar mean American writer?

Dec. 09 2009 01:28 PM

Leonard -

Your guest is wonderful to listen to. Great conversation.

Dec. 09 2009 01:23 PM
Victoria Bond from Harlem

I've read between 8-10 Highsmith novels, and I've never been more infected with paranoia. Could your guest talk about Highsmith's take on sexuality in The Price of Salt as well as the homosexual themes in the Ripley novels.

Dec. 09 2009 01:11 PM
Joe Adams from Bergen County, New Jersey

Does Ms. Schenkar discuss Highsmith's bigotry and whether she attempted to put it into her books?

Dec. 09 2009 08:01 AM

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