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Tales Of the Natural and Unnatural Paperback – Jan 31 1994


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Gifts For Dad




Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: GROVE/ATLANTIC; Reissue edition (Jan. 31 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871133415
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871133410
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13.9 x 1.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,174,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Master storyteller Highsmith ( Mermaids on the Golf Course ) offers an eerily up-to-date collection of modern horror tales. On the cutting edge of technology are "Operation Balsam; Or Touch Me Not," about the government's problems in disposing of nuclear waste and an ingenious bureaucrat's solution, and "Rent-a-Womb vs. the Mighty Right," where surrogate mothers unionize and take on the religious fundamentalists. "President Buck Jones Rallies and Waves the Flag" culminates with the end of the world, while "Trouble at Jade Towers" embodies one of the city dweller's worst nightmaresenormous, unkillable roaches. Most of the stories take current trends to their logical and horrific conclusions, as in "Sweet Freedom! And a Picnic on the White House Lawn," which concerns the wholesale release of "harmless" patients from mental institutions. Highsmith looks at our civilization with a remorseless eye. Almost anyone trying to change things for the better is destroyed, even the Pope in "Sixtus VI, Pope of the Red Slipper," who is martyred trying to bring justice to the poor.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The richly imagined but brutal fables in Highsmith's newest collection are gothic horror tales mixed with a dash of macabre humor. One is a reprise of Moby Dick told from the furious whale's point of view; another shows scientists experimenting on cancer-ridden corpses. When the corpses are buried in the cemetery behind the hospital, enormous blobs of fungi grow from themeventually to become a great tourist attraction. For Naomi, 190 or 210 years old, there is truly "No End in Sight." She is without one redeeming quality, prompting Highsmith to imply that it is too bad that "they don't push the old folks over cliffs anymore." In Highsmith's grim, sardonic view, people pollute the earth and carry evil within them. Not for the squeamish or the escapist.Marcia Tager, Tenafly, N.J.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
On the outskirts of the small town of G- in eastern Austria lies a mysterious cemetery hardly an acre in size, filled with the remains of paupers for the most part, their places marked by nothing at all, or at best by tombstone fragments now all in the wrong spots. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
This book was classed as Mystery & Suspense, but presumably just because "that's what Patricia Highsmith writes." I'd class it as fantasy. These stories describe completely recognizable worlds, but "gone slightly mad" as one review accurately puts it. Some are enormously disturbing - I tried not to fall asleep in the middle of one because I feared the nightmares it would kindle!
That said, it's far from my favorite Highsmith. The stories just don't grip like most of her work - I couldn't stay awake when I tried. Peculiarly, many of them seem both too short, i.e. sketchy, and too long, i.e.moral/story could have been delivered much more quickly.
Perhaps mostly a good book for Highsmith completists; it's always interesting to read a favorite author's forays into a different genre.
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Format: Paperback
These stories are interesting and well-conceived. They are not always what you would expect - but hat's what Highsmith does best. This is not Strangers on a Train or The Talented Mr. Ripley, but it is clever fiction, well rendered.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Stories that are not so much scary as just icky July 22 2009
By Dave Deubler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Mystery and suspense writer Patricia Highsmith offers tales of Gothic horror in the tradition of H.P. Lovecraft in a thoroughly modern (and at times, almost futuristic) setting. Most of these stories struck this reviewer as more unpleasant than truly horrifying, and more often than not, the bad guys only got what was coming to them, so no regrets. And as mysteries, these stories were not overly clever, and seemed to go on far too long for the amount of plot. If this was done with the hope of building suspense, it largely failed. Meanwhile, the topics of nuclear waste, plagues of insects, and the struggle for women's rights each figure prominently in more than one story, making this collection seem needlessly repetitive - a little more variety in subject matter probably would have helped. This reviewer's favorite tale was "Sweet Freedom! And a Picnic on the White House Lawn" which at least had a pleasant subplot. Also, "Sixtus VII: Pope of the Red Slipper" was pretty good and at least well-intentioned. The others fall short of being genuinely frightening without being funny, or clever, or presenting any positive message. The author certainly delivers on what the title promises, but this reviewer wonders "to what point?"
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Neither Here, nor There, but not bad Jan. 22 2009
By lin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
My only exposure to Highsmith prior to reading this book is Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, which I loved. But somehow I can't believe the same person wrote them, as these stories hardly leave an impression me like Strangers on a Train did. The style reminds me of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller--a sort of mad-hatter of absurdities--which held me initially with a few painful chuckles, but it got old quickly if the story was too long.

Overall, I was not impressed by this particular work, but I am intrigued enough by what I've read to see her talent used in a different direction.
Fun, Funny and Sometimes, Profound Oct. 31 2013
By Kindle Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You should take my review with a grain of salt: I am an inveterate Patricia Highsmith fan. The stories in this collection range from silly to significant, funny to scary, but all are a good read, especially on a dark and stormy night before going to sleep! My favorite is "The Mysterious Cemetery," the opening story, but I enjoyed the grief, gore, and absurdity of all the tales, particularly "Trouble at the Jade Towers."

I also enjoyed The Animal-Lover's Book of Beastly Murder. The odd thing is that I am not particularly an animal lover. I especially dislike and distrust dogs although I have had successful long-term relationships with a few cats and a fish or two. Nevertheless, this collection of bizarre stories written from the point of view of pets, zoo animals and other wild or domesticated creatures is fun to read, often funny, and occasionally sublime. Animal lovers (and, perhaps, people haters) will especially love it.

All of Highsmith's short fiction tends to be weird, a characteristic I enjoy! If you agree, you should also pick up Little Tales of Misogyny.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Tales to give you nightmares March 26 2000
By A. C. Seligman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book was classed as Mystery & Suspense, but presumably just because "that's what Patricia Highsmith writes." I'd class it as fantasy. These stories describe completely recognizable worlds, but "gone slightly mad" as one review accurately puts it. Some are enormously disturbing - I tried not to fall asleep in the middle of one because I feared the nightmares it would kindle!
That said, it's far from my favorite Highsmith. The stories just don't grip like most of her work - I couldn't stay awake when I tried. Peculiarly, many of them seem both too short, i.e. sketchy, and too long, i.e.moral/story could have been delivered much more quickly.
Perhaps mostly a good book for Highsmith completists; it's always interesting to read a favorite author's forays into a different genre.
perfect stories when you can't find anything else to read July 23 2015
By D. Montano - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mysterious Cemetery - my advice, skip it, pointless. Moby Dick II - this story did move me, one could identify with the hapless whale and cheer his inadvertent revenge; Operation Balsam - one would think that the premise is absurd, unfortunately I could actually believe that such a thing could occur. Having read about recent industrial accidents, this one strikes me as plausible; Nabuti-actually enjoyed the story, it could happen and something similar probably has - made me think of Jim Jones; Sweet Freedom was an interesting little story that absolutely could have been true; Trouble at the Jade Towers was a lot of words amounting to nothing; Rent-A-Womb - didn't care for that story, waste of time, No End in Sight, an exaggeration of the awful truth, Pope of the Red Slipper, interesting little story, President Buck Jones...people of a certain age could see who the author was skewing - ridiculous little story that was a lot of fun.


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