From the eerily outlandish to the dark and brutal, Eleven presents a gallery of bizarre characters, each driven by strange unspoken urges, whose cumulative effect is at least as unsettling as any of Highsmith's previous novels.
Her stories range from the macabre to the suspenseful. What makes them particularly chilling is that many of them take place in otherwise mundane everyday settings with people who may be either quite ordinary or slightly bizarre, but to whom something extraordinary happens. These are stories that will capture the imagination of the reader. Some even reminded me a little bit of the stories of H. P. Lovecraft, as some of them contain a strong element of horror, crafted, however, in a most delicate, sublime fashion.
These eleven compelling short stories will keep the reader turning the pages of this marvelous little book. It is a book well worth having in one's personal collection. Bravo!
This collection of 11 short stories show why she is considered by many to be a mistress of chilling suspense. All of the stories begin innocently enough, but an air of expectation is always just around the corner. Often the payoff comes in the last few lines, but what a payoff indeed! The outstanding story has to be "When The Fleet Was In At Mobile" with it's horrific revelations. Do not read these late at night, as your dreams will become nightmares.
My two favorite stories are "Cries of Love," and "The Empty Birdhouse."
I've read a couple of critics and several readers who have suggested she was not as good a writer of stories as novels, but from this collection, at least, I would have to disagree. Now I prefer her novels, but these stories were as good as any writer's. A few times the reader is given the character's past in a lump dose that hurts the strength of the story, such as "The Heroine," and "The Empty Birdhouse," but that is an inherent obstacle of the short story format. I still had a good feel for those characters, and I still felt the overall impact of the story. Some truly great stories.
As with most collections of short stories, 'Eleven' is a hit-and-miss affair. The stories are at minimum competent, with a couple being quite interesting (, creepy, weird, et al). Unfortunately unlike with her novels, these compact stories do not play to Highsmith's strengths - that is, dissecting her characters and their phobias.
However I do recommend 'Eleven' for those who simply don't have the time or patience to read Highsmith's novels. It certainly makes for excellent commuting reading material.