The great revival of interest in Patricia Highsmith continues with this work that reveals the chilling reality behind the idyllic facade of American suburban life.
The stories collected in Mermaids on the Golf Course are among Highsmith's most mature, psychologically penetrating works. As in the title story, in which a man's brush with death endows his everyday desires with tragic consequences, the warm familiarities of middle-class life become the eerie setting for Highsmith's chilling portrayals of violence, secrecy, and madness.
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
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Mermaids on the Golf Course
Another example of Highsmith’s ability to spin a well crafted yarn, will clearly developed characters -
Highsmith’s characters are easy to mentally picture and their manner and cadence of speaking equally easy to recognize.
As good as her tales of murder and intrigue are to read, I find her short stories even more engaging.