'One of the exhilarating effects of reading Highsmith's stories . . . is their surehandednes, their amazing breadth and abundance . . . they compel attention and they add significantly to her already formidable presence' Washington Post
The stories collected in Mermaids on the Golf Course, first published in 1985, are among Patricia Highsmith's most mature, psychologically penetrating works.
Published in the latter part of her career, these stories reveal Highsmith's mastery of the short story form. Moving between locales as various as France, Mexico, Zurich, and New York, Highsmith transforms the mundane features of everyday life into an eerie backdrop for her penetrating stories of violence, secrecy, and madness.
In 'The Stuff of Madness', Christopher Waggoner, increasingly dismayed by his wife's habit of preserving dead pets in their garden, enacts a devious revenge by adding a bizarre new exhibit to their collection; in the title story, a eminent economist's brush with death endows his once-familiar desires with tragic consequences; and in 'A Shot from Nowhere', a young painter who witnesses a gruesome death on a vacant Mexican Street becomes trapped in an unimaginable nightmare.
In these piercing stories, Highsmith creates a world all the more frightening because we recognise it as our own...
Fans of Highsmith ( Strangers on a Train , Found in the Street ) will welcome this collection; for others it may be an acquired taste. Among the 11 short stories, ``The Stuff of Madness'' tells of a woman who displays her dead stuffed pets in the garden, and of her husband's final revolt. ``A Clock Ticks at Christmas'' is about the breakup of the marriage between a woman born rich and a man who had to make his money, and their opposite reactions to a theft by two urchins she befriends. In ``The Button,'' a man displaces his rage at his Mongoloid son by killing a stranger. In the title story, a government official injured in an assassination attempt on the President suffers a personality change he is unaware of, although everyone else notices his altered behavior. The art student visiting Mexico in ``A Shot from Nowhere'' sees a young boy killed but can get no one to do anything about it; he is arrested and thrown out of the country with no explanation. More mood pieces and psychological studies than nicely plotted stories, these tales are depressing and downbeat, albeit very well written. ( October