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'My New Year's Eve Toast: to all the devils, lusts, passions, greeds, envies, loves, hates, strange desires, enemies ghostly and real, the army of memories, with which I do battle - may they never give me peace'
PATRICIA HIGHSMITH (New Year's Eve, 1947)
Made famous by the great success of her psychological thrillers, The Talented Mr Ripley and Strangers on a Train, Patricia Highsmith is lauded as one of the most influential and celebrated modern writers. However, there has never been a clear picture of the woman behind the books.
The relationship between Highsmith's lesbianism, her fraught personality – by parts self-destructive and malicious – and her fiction, has been largely avoided by biographers. She was openly homosexual and wrote the seminal lesbian love story, Carol. In modern times, she would be venerated as a radical exponent of the LGBT community. However, her status as an LGBT icon is undermined by the fact that she was excessively cruel and exploitative of her friends and lovers.
In this new biography, Richard Bradford brings his sharp, incisive style to one of the great and most controversial writers of the twentieth century. He considers Highsmith's bestsellers in the context of her troubled personal life; her alcoholism, licentious sex life, racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny and abundant self-loathing.
"This book is as snappy as an alligator … those who wish to see Patricia Highsmith devoured will no doubt applaud it." - Mail on Sunday
"[E]ngrossing ... the book is a happy mixture of biography and criticism." - Booklist
"In this provocative account, Bradford … shows the symmetries between the life and art of Patricia Highsmith … fans of Highsmith’s work are sure to gain a deeper appreciation for the exceptional writer and her complicated life." - Publishers Weekly
"Mr. Bradford gives a vivid sense of those formative years, deftly compressing the baggier episodes …" - The Wall Street Journal
"Bradford illuminates Highsmith’s talents and pitfalls by connecting them to her work. Bradford skillfully argues that Highsmith’s novels, even the ones not as well known, offer clues to the author’s personality. For those familiar with Highsmith’s novels, Devils, Lusts, and Strange Desires should deepen their understanding, while hopefully encouraging those just encountering her work to read further." - Lambda Literary
"Devils, Lusts and Strange Desires is certainly an engrossing book." - The New Criterion
"Bradford’s biography employs a more critical approach than previous studies on Highsmith." - The Dallas Morning News