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Nothing That Meets The Eye [Hardcover]

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

Oct. 29 2002
Nothing That Meets the Eye confirms Patricia Highsmith as a great American writer.

If only Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995) had been alive to see the thunderous critical response to the publication of the best-selling The Selected Stories of Patricia Highsmith in 2001. Now the Highsmith renaissance continues with this brilliant collection of 28 short stories, a great majority of which have never been seen before. The stories assembled in Nothing That Meets the Eye, written between 1938 and 1982, are vintage Highsmith: a gigolo-like psychopath preys on unfulfilled career women; a lonely spinster's fragile hold on reality is tethered to the bottle; an estranged postal worker invents homicidal fantasies about his coworkers. While some stories anticipate the diabolical narratives of the Ripley novels, others possess a Capra-like sweetness that forces us to see the author in a new light. From this new collection, a remarkable portrait of the American psyche at mid-century emerges, unforgettably distilled by the inimitable eye of Patricia Highsmith.


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Following on the heels of The Selected Stories of Patricia Highsmith (2001) comes Nothing That Meets the Eye: The Uncollected Stories of Patricia Highsmith, with an afterword by Paul Ingendaay and notes on the stories by Anna von Planta. Most of these 28 tales, which Highsmith (1921-1995) wrote between 1938 and 1982, are previously unpublished.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The late, prolific Highsmith is best known to readers for the canny, resourceful, elegant, and amoral Mr. Ripley (from her books; forget the movie please!). And, to writers, for her elegant, crafted prose. The novel form aside, the short story might be her best medium, riveting attention on her twists (plot and psychological), her use of language, and her experiments with viewpoint. Of the 28 stories collected here, many were previously published, but none are readily available. Those in the first section (to 1948) show a surprising attention to women's viewpoints and a developing sense of the illuminative power of a single moment, as in "The Still Point of the Turning World." The second section (from 1952 on) is more male-dominated and characteristic, and the best stories here (like "A Girl Like Phyl" where the illumination is ironic and shatters a life) could really be said to burn with Pater's "hard, gemlike flame." Remarkable; highly recommended. Robert E. Brown, Minoa Lib., NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Really high on Highsmith Oct. 27 2002
By JACK
Format:Hardcover
She's baaack! A second anthology of Patricia Highsmith's short fiction, this time featuring stories that have not been published until now.
Unlike the first collection of her short fiction (where many of the stories struck me as mere character sketches) the contents of "Nothing That Meets the Eye" are all fully developed short stories. One of my favorites features the subtle yet obvious menace of a stranger with candy, a very, to paraphrase the story's title, "Nice Sort of Man." The one story that fails to impress in the collection is "The Born Failure." It features a downtrodden, Job-like little man who lurches from one disappointment to the next. The story ends in an oddly sappy upbeat "It's a Wonderful Life" way, as if Highsmith suddenly got bored with cataloguing this character's misfortunes and wanted him off her hands. Interestingly enough, she didn't kill off the Failure. Possibly because for such a loser death might have seemed a kindness.
An added bonus is Paul Ingendaay's biographical essay, which follows the collected short stories. It gives a greater insight into Highsmith's literary process, touches on her lesbianism, and its probable influences on her body of work. (I'd always thought it odd that, in a wild divergence from her more mainstream suspense fiction, Highsmith had written the lesbian-themed novel, The Price of Salt, under the name of Claire Morgan.) Even more intriguing is the fact that Highsmith, apparently a meticulous literary craftsman, left behind a treasure trove of workbooks, notebooks, journals, as well as typescripts of drafts of published and unpublished works. Hopefully one day these literary artifacts will also find their way into print.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent! Jan. 7 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I am usually not a short story fan, but I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this collection. Highsmith is such a fabulous writer that you are completely drawn into her stories and can't wait to turn the page. Some of her stories in previous collections haven't been my cup of tea. But in this collection, Highsmith shows herself as a writer's writer and gives readers a wonderful gift of perfectly crafted stories that will stay with you long after you close the cover.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really high on Highsmith Oct. 27 2002
By JACK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
She's baaack! A second anthology of Patricia Highsmith's short fiction, this time featuring stories that have not been published until now.
Unlike the first collection of her short fiction (where many of the stories struck me as mere character sketches) the contents of "Nothing That Meets the Eye" are all fully developed short stories. One of my favorites features the subtle yet obvious menace of a stranger with candy, a very, to paraphrase the story's title, "Nice Sort of Man." The one story that fails to impress in the collection is "The Born Failure." It features a downtrodden, Job-like little man who lurches from one disappointment to the next. The story ends in an oddly sappy upbeat "It's a Wonderful Life" way, as if Highsmith suddenly got bored with cataloguing this character's misfortunes and wanted him off her hands. Interestingly enough, she didn't kill off the Failure. Possibly because for such a loser death might have seemed a kindness.
An added bonus is Paul Ingendaay's biographical essay, which follows the collected short stories. It gives a greater insight into Highsmith's literary process, touches on her lesbianism, and its probable influences on her body of work. (I'd always thought it odd that, in a wild divergence from her more mainstream suspense fiction, Highsmith had written the lesbian-themed novel, The Price of Salt, under the name of Claire Morgan.) Even more intriguing is the fact that Highsmith, apparently a meticulous literary craftsman, left behind a treasure trove of workbooks, notebooks, journals, as well as typescripts of drafts of published and unpublished works. Hopefully one day these literary artifacts will also find their way into print.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent! Jan. 7 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I am usually not a short story fan, but I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this collection. Highsmith is such a fabulous writer that you are completely drawn into her stories and can't wait to turn the page. Some of her stories in previous collections haven't been my cup of tea. But in this collection, Highsmith shows herself as a writer's writer and gives readers a wonderful gift of perfectly crafted stories that will stay with you long after you close the cover.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fortunate whim April 5 2005
By Matthew Hovious - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I came across this book at a bookstore's clearance sale and bought it on a whim, for which I was afterwards very grateful. This is a comprehensive collection of lively, varied stories, each one worth reading. Each is a snapshot of reality as insightful as an Edward Hopper painting, delicious for its voyeuristic glimpse into a life, often a life's last moments.

The book is proof positive of Highsmith's abilities in terms of writing from different prespectives, telling stories as a man, a woman, a young person or a middle-aged one, an American or a European. Everyone will have a different favourite here; pressed to choose, I would not agree with the choice of Mr Ingendaay, who wrote the afterword, but rather select one of the very last stories in the book, "Things had gone badly", for its implicit conclusions about how banal everyday obligations can destroy artistic creativity. "A Girl Like Phyl" is another one of the prizewinners here, an insightful reflection on the harm that can be done by letting idealised memories of an unsuccessful relationship become a fallacious yardstick for measuring other relationships. Just a few of the stories are underdeveloped, staying at the level of character sketches, but this is compensated for by the ingenious ideas that gave rise to other stories, such as the collector of counterfeits in "The Great Cardhouse". The only reason why I give this book four stars instead of five is that I felt a bit too many of the stories (I won't say which ones) ended with a suicide which occasionally felt like a Deus ex Machina. Despite that this is a book that you won't be sorry you've bought.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stories that Span a Career March 22 2013
By Michael J. Tucker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Subtitled The Uncollected Stories of Patricia Highsmith, the book comprises twenty-eight classic Highsmith tales. If you are familiar with The Talented Mr. Ripley, either the novel or the 1999 movie staring Matt Damon, then you know something about the talented Ms. Highsmith.

These stories span the writing career of the author from 1938 to 1982 and include many stories that were never previously published. The collection is divided into two parts in chronological order. Part I Early Stories consists of stories written from 1938 to 1949, the first three of which were published while she was an undergraduate at Barnard College, and Part II Middle and Later Stories covers the period from 1952 to 1982. The order allows the reader the opportunity to follow the author's growth as a writer.

Most of these stories were found after her death in 1995. They were stored in a linen closet, like something you would expect to read in one of her stories. It is believed that she secreted these away because their disturbing psychological themes of loneliness and isolation, alcoholism, child molestation, spousal abuse and suicide would not find an acceptable audience in the America of the `40's and `50's.

Their loss, our gain.

It is almost scary considering Ms. Highsmith's age when she wrote the first three stories. They offer remarkable insight to psychologically disturbed individuals. The shocking loneliness eliminates the need for violence in these opening tales.

Some of her stories are light, almost whimsical, but yet retain a look into the disturbing tone. Miss Juste and the Green Rompers as well as Two Disagreeable Pigeons are examples. The latter will strike a cord with any wife that reads it. The Trouble with Mrs. Blynn, the Trouble with the World is a tender story that pulls at your heart and at the same time reflects the flaws of people that we see every day. After reading Man's Best Friend you will want to get your own dog, and Born Failure is the kind of story that reminds you of an old movie where you have tears of joy at the end.

Music to Die By is among the Middle and Later Stories but I'm don't know when between 1952 and 1982 it was actually written. It may or may not have been a bit prescient. The story is about a postal worker and gives us a slightly different meaning to the term "going postal". A Very Nice Man will creep out any parent, in more ways than one.

Selecting the collection's title from the story Nothing That Meets The Eye is most appropriate for all of these stories offer little, and sometimes big, surprises. That is what you will find in the titled story. We meet an average looking middle-aged woman who has lead a relatively uneventful life that unexpected finds herself the center of attention of every man and many of the women when she visits an alpine ski resort.

If you've never read any of Ms. Highsmith's work before, then let me offer this word of caution: if you start to read her stories you may not be able to stop.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highsmith's best collection. Feb. 1 2011
By H.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In my opinion this is the best collection of her short stories, each story seems better than the previous one. If you've not read any Patricia Highsmith this is a good place to begin and begin you must.
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