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Little Tales Of Misogyny [Paperback]

Patricia Highsmith
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 27 2002
Long out of print, this Highsmith classic resurfaces with a vengeance. The great revival of interest in Patricia Highsmith continues with the publication of this legendary, cultish short story collection. With an eerie simplicity of style, Highsmith turns our next-door neighbors into sadistic psychopaths, lying in wait among white picket fences and manicured lawns. In the darkly satiric, often mordantly hilarious sketches that make up Little Tales of Misogyny, Highsmith upsets our conventional notions of female character, revealing the devastating power of these once familiar creatures—"The Dancer," "The Female Novelist," "The Prude"—who destroy both themselves and the men around them. This work attesets to Highsmith's reputation as "the poet of apprehension" (Graham Greene).

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The 17 tales in Highsmith's new collection are a far cry from Strangers on a Train and her other unforgettable thrillers. These stories, although written with exemplary style, make the flesh crawl but not pleasurably, as reliable suspense fare does. Each focuses on a female doing in a male or, more often, herself. "The Breeder" Elaine persists in giving birth until her husband Douglas goes irrevocably mad, trying to support 17 children. "The Victim" is Cathy, fond of claiming she's been raped repeatedly in her nubile adolescence. During her career as an airline hostess, Cathy's sexuality pays better in rich gifts than in sympathetic attention. But greed and vanity spell the lush girl's doom. From the book's overall tone, readers could infer that its origin was bitter contempt for humans of either gender. The entries fail as real satire, which is always amusing, regardless of its stings.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Patricia Highsmith is the author of such classics as Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. She died in 1995 in Locarno, Switzerland.

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A young man asked a father for his daughter's hand, and received it in a box-her left hand. Read the first page
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Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Vile Women & Stupid Men May 10 2014
By Nicola Mansfield HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
What a bunch of complete and utter rot. I have always wanted to read Patricia Highsmith. Strangers on a Train is one of my favourite movies, Ever! and I really enjoyed the Mr. Ripley movie. I have a lot of her books and just haven't got around to them yet. The back of this collection of extremely short, short stories labels them as "mystery/fiction". This is not mystery in any shape or form. I do not know what to make of these stories. If you read my notes that follow as I read the book you'll see my confusion and distaste for the material progress as I went along. I presume these stories are some sort of farcical feminist literature. I found them vulgar, stupid and not in the least humorous at all.

1. The Hand - Gruesome little parable as to the inappropriateness of referring to marriage as asking for "her hand". (4/5)

2. Oona, the Jolly Cave Woman - Don't get this. A "cave woman" is raped at an early age and then over the years admired by all the men, giving herself freely, maintaining the population practically by herself and then the first man to fall in love's (perhaps ever in the tribe) jealous wife kills Oona with the result that the man starts making images of Oona, then statues, worshipping her and eventually is killed himself by a jealous wife whose husband buys such a statue. Anyway I feel hate from the story but can't help feeling it might be a story made up to give a background for the famous "Venus of Willendorf" statue. (2/5)

3. The Coquette - Lying and playing around with people's hearts will turn around on yourself in the end especially when the people involved are a nasty woman and stupid men. (2/5)

4.
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4.0 out of 5 stars More misanthropic than misogynistic Dec 20 2002
Format:Paperback
Much of Patricia Highsmith's writing proceeds from one simple idea: that with intense effort and single-minded determination, even the most unremarkable people can manage to ruin not only their own lives, but the lives of everyone around them as well. One need look no further than this slim collection of short fables to make the point. Whether it's "Oona the Jolly Cave Woman," hapless Elaine in "The Breeder," or a truly malevolent creature like Thea in "The Perfect Little Lady," all of the main characters in these short stories display an insatiable appetite for destruction.
Although the title suggests that this book is misogynistic, the men in this collection aren't necessarily any better than the women. Highsmith's deep misanthropy can (and does) get monotonous, but with such gemlike stories as "The Hand" and "The Prude" in this collection, the book gives little cause for complaint.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More misanthropic than misogynistic Dec 20 2002
By Timothy Hulsey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Much of Patricia Highsmith's writing proceeds from one simple idea: that with intense effort and single-minded determination, even the most unremarkable people can manage to ruin not only their own lives, but the lives of everyone around them as well. One need look no further than this slim collection of short fables to make the point. Whether it's "Oona the Jolly Cave Woman," hapless Elaine in "The Breeder," or a truly malevolent creature like Thea in "The Perfect Little Lady," all of the main characters in these short stories display an insatiable appetite for destruction.
Although the title suggests that this book is misogynistic, the men in this collection aren't necessarily any better than the women. Highsmith's deep misanthropy can (and does) get monotonous, but with such gemlike stories as "The Hand" and "The Prude" in this collection, the book gives little cause for complaint.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black humor? Nov. 12 2000
By Allan MacInnis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
These aren't stories, really, merely vignettes that describe horrific women abusing men, rolling around in self-absorption, or just being stupid blobs; they occasionally meet richly-deserved bad ends, at which we are invited to cheer, or at least feel satisfied. The fact that the book was written by a woman, and one who, one suspects, found the writing of the project vastly amusing, makes it a must-read of sorts; Highsmith was a very unique person. A nice companion piece to her other extremely eccentric work, THE ANIMAL LOVER'S BOOK OF BEASTLY MURDER.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Vile Women & Stupid Men May 10 2014
By Nicola Mansfield - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
What a bunch of complete and utter rot. I have always wanted to read Patricia Highsmith. Strangers on a Train is one of my favourite movies, Ever! and I really enjoyed the Mr. Ripley movie. I have a lot of her books and just haven't got around to them yet. The back of this collection of extremely short, short stories labels them as "mystery/fiction". This is not mystery in any shape or form. I do not know what to make of these stories. If you read my notes that follow as I read the book you'll see my confusion and distaste for the material progress as I went along. I presume these stories are some sort of farcical feminist literature. I found them vulgar, stupid and not in the least humorous at all.

1. The Hand - Gruesome little parable as to the inappropriateness of referring to marriage as asking for "her hand". (4/5)

2. Oona, the Jolly Cave Woman - Don't get this. A "cave woman" is raped at an early age and then over the years admired by all the men, giving herself freely, maintaining the population practically by herself and then the first man to fall in love's (perhaps ever in the tribe) jealous wife kills Oona with the result that the man starts making images of Oona, then statues, worshipping her and eventually is killed himself by a jealous wife whose husband buys such a statue. Anyway I feel hate from the story but can't help feeling it might be a story made up to give a background for the famous "Venus of Willendorf" statue. (2/5)

3. The Coquette - Lying and playing around with people's hearts will turn around on yourself in the end especially when the people involved are a nasty woman and stupid men. (2/5)

4. The Female Novelist - A neurotic woman does nothing but think, talk and write about her past husbands' and lovers' infidelities that her current husband seems bound for the same end ... to her satisfaction? (1/5)

Uggh! These are horrible stories! What am I supposed to be getting from them? I know it's some kind of feminist twaddle, but am I supposed to have feelings for these vile women? On to the next one:

5. The Dancer - Sigh ... Two ballroom dancers are lovers and do a tango where the man enacts almost strangling the woman which is a huge hit but then the woman stops sleeping with the man to raise his ardour and takes on other lovers. The man does not like being teased this way and the ending comes as no shock. (1/5)

6. The Invalid, or, The Bedridden - Well for some reason I did find this funny. A woman pretends injury and consequent permanent invalidity to capture a husband, though she is always up to a trip to Cannes in August. It takes the husband 11 years to catch on and then he does the expected gaining a much more satisfying life. (4/5)

7. The Artist - This is odd compared to the other stories. A women takes up the arts, moving from one to another in succession eventually leaving her husband alone, lonely and doing all the housework himself until as usual the woman's death ends the relationship, only this time it is an accident. In this story, neither the man or woman is portrayed as selfish, evil or stupid like the other ones. The woman is actually sympathetic. She talks of wanting beauty and she is obviously looking for something in her life. They are both lonely figures; the woman looking for something to fulfill herself, the man losing the companionship of his wife. (4/5)

Strange. Why in the middle of the book do we suddenly not have a vile, manipulative woman?? I can't figure out what Highsmith is getting at here. Onward I go.

8. The Middle-Class Housewife - Oh God. What do I say. A daughter takes her poor mother to a Women's Lib rally at a local church which ends in mob violence and death after the mother questions "free state nurseries". Poor woman. Thank God we haven't descended that far into Hell yet in this socialist country. (1/5)

9. The Fully Licensed Whore, or, the Wife - Oh boy, with a title like that I think I'm in for another viscous woman story. Yep! A woman gets married, two months pregnant with another man's son, so that she can live a life of amorous affairs and be a licensed, legal "player of the field". Again we can either feel sorry for the man or just disregard him for being so stupid as to fall for her schemes. (2/5)

Just to let my readers know. I am aware that these stories are supposed to be some sort of satire. Perhaps a reader with feminist attitudes would have tears rolling down their face at the absurdity of these tales. I'm getting nothing though. Just quick little stories about icky people and they are so nasty they are not funny, to me, anyway.

10. The Breeder - This title cannot mean good things. A man literally goes mad after fathering seventeen children with his wife in not even so many years. Don't know what to say here, they are both as bad but really it boils down to having respect and communication in a proper marriage which neither of them had. Yick. (2/5)

11. The Mobile Bed-Object - The "bed-object" is a 23-year-old woman who is a professional mistress. She enjoys this, travels all over the world and beats boredom when her men trade her to others. However, she realizes that her youth is going for this business and she must retire soon so starts thinking of how to build a nest egg. While she thinks she is using men, they are using her. This story I felt for the woman, although she was a hard schemer who took advantage of men. The men were unsympathetic as they were users with no emotions at all. So while, I didn't like the woman, and she gets what can be expected by those in her lifestyle at the end, she at least is not a totally unsympathetic creature. (3/5)

BTW, these last two stories were very long for this collection: 6 pages!

12. The Perfect Little Lady - A vile scheming little girl who turns into the same as a teenager, gleeful when her opponents suffer misfortune. (3/5)

13. The Silent Mother-in-Law - Edna lives with her daughter and son-in-law and afraid of ever being the butt of mother-in-law jokes remains utterly silent on all accounts, actually infuriating the couple so much that one night they come home from a party, take off their clothes and ring the bell to get a rise out of her. I think there is something I'm not getting in this one; I had to read the ending a few times but it is alluding me. (2/5)

14. The Prude - A mother is determined that her 4 daughters be virgins at the altar as she and her husband were. They disobey and the story glorys in how fornication has made the girls' lives so much more wonderful, happier and prosperous than their morally astute parents. Bleck! (0/5)

15. The Victim - What to make of this ... I suppose we could call it a fable to be told to girls to warn them against dressing like sluts and attracting the attention and consequences such attire and accompanying behaviour is most likely to garner. Is this humour? Even so, it basically insults everyone, male and female, feminists and those who embrace womanhood. Another yick. But the story does get some points for writing and plotting. (2/5)

16. The Evangelist - I'm just shaking my head, really. A woman finds profound religion and becomes a street preacher, then she becomes famous around the world and like all these stories meets an untimely demise. Ridiculous. (1/5)

Thank goodness the last one!

17. The Perfectionist - The most bizarre story of the lot but at least this woman is not vile or viscous and does not end up dead. The poor dear has a nervous break down and ends up knitting every day from 6am to 2am. (0/5)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling and hilarious March 3 2010
By W. S. Prindle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Patricia Highsmith isn't for everyone, but this slim collection of short tales of women who meet their fates in a variety of ways, many of them disturbing, is quite a wonderful read. It proves that short fiction can be every bit as entertaining as longer forms. These tales glitter like sunlight striking the tip of a very sharp stiletto.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow book about fast changing region! July 29 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I was dissapointed after being tantalized by the title. I fully expected much more anecdotal evidence that a gay lifestyle exists in Eastern Europe...instead it reinforced the sterotype of a bleak and gray people. Which is not true, Eastern Europe is fascinating and quite gay. Maybe someone will do this subject justice next time around
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