In this collection of stories, Patricia Highsmith reveals the chilling reality behind the idyllic facade of American suburban life.
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-famailiar 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 mroe frightening because we recognise it as our own.
Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995) was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and moved to New York when she was six, where she attended the Julia Richman High School and Barnard College. In her senior year she edited the college magazine, having decided at the age of sixteen to become a writer. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train, was made into a classic film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951. The Talented Mr Ripley, published in 1955, introduced the fascinating anti-hero Tom Ripley, and was made into an Oscar-winning film in 1999 by Anthony Minghella. Graham Greene called Patricia Highsmith 'the poet of apprehension', saying that she 'created a world of her own - a world claustrophobic and irrational which we enter each time with a sense of personal danger' and The Times named her no.1 in their list of the greatest ever crime writers. Patricia Highsmith died in Locarno, Switzerland, in February 1995. Her last novel, Small g: A Summer Idyll, was published posthumously, the same year.