by Linda Rodriguez
Patricia Highsmith was the writer of powerful, compressed
narratives of psychological complexity and transgressive violence. Her short
fiction and novels are gems of tight, spare narrative that carries an outsized
emotional impact. Her reputation was often injured because she wrote almost
exclusively crime fiction of one kind or another.
Highsmith wrote 22 novels, a number of which have been made
into successful movies. Her protagonists were usually outsiders—neurotic or
even psychotic—and they usually carried out criminal acts, for which most often
they were never caught or punished. She records extraordinary characters acting
out bizarre fantasies and strange intimacies in precise, flat, simple prose.
In later years, her misanthropic and misogynistic
tendencies, not to mention her racism and anti-Semitism, became more and more
prominent and pronounced. This and her choice to live abroad helped to keep her
reputation in the United States lower than it should have been. Highsmith had
spent a great deal of time at the writer’s colony, Yaddo, during her early
career, and though she became an expatriate in Europe for the last half of her
life, she left her $3 million estate to Yaddo when she died.
Highsmith books that I particularly recommend are Strangers on a Train, The
Blunderers, The Talented Mr.. Ripley, This Sweet Sickness, Edith's
Diary, The Boy Who Followed Ripley, The Snail-Watcher and Other
Stories, Little Tales of Misogyny, The Animal Lover's Book of
Beastly Murder, and Nothing That Meets the Eye: The Uncollected Stories.
That last book was published posthumously. Highsmith also wrote an excellent
book on writing, Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction. I think you'll
find that Highsmith stands the test of time.
Linda Rodriguez's 13th
book, Unpapered: Writers Consider Native American Identity and Cultural
Belonging, will publish in May 2023. She also edited Woven Voices: 3
Generations of Puertorriqueña Poets Look at Their American Lives, The
World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East, The
Fish That Got Away: The Sixth Guppy Anthology, Fishy Business: The Fifth Guppy
Anthology, and other anthologies.
Her Skeet Bannion
mystery novels—Every Hidden Fear, Every Broken Trust, Every Last Secret—and books of poetry—Skin Hunger, Heart's
Migration, Dark Sister—received critical recognition and awards,
such as St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic Best First Novel, International
Latino Book Award, Latina Book Club Best Book of 2014, Midwest Voices &
Visions, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, Oklahoma Book Award finalist, Thorpe
Menn Award, and Ragdale and Macondo fellowships. She also published Plotting
the Character-Driven Novel, based on her popular workshop. Her short story, “The Good Neighbor,”
published in Kansas City Noir, was
optioned for film.
Rodriguez is past
chair of the AWP Indigenous Writer’s Caucus, past president of Border Crimes
chapter of Sisters in Crime, founding board member of Latino Writers Collective
and The Writers Place, and a member of International
Thriller Writers, Native Writers Circle of the Americas, Wordcraft Circle of
Native American Writers and Storytellers, and Kansas City Cherokee Community.
Learn more about her at http://lindarodriguezwrites.blogspot.com
or follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/rodriguez_linda
or on Mastodon at https://mastodon.social/rodriguez_linda.