Re: RARA-AVIS: Patricia Highsmith, was Vian and America

From: Patrick King (
Date: 09 Dec 2008

  • Next message: jacquesdebierue: "Re: RARA-AVIS: Patricia Highsmith, was Vian and America"

    --- On Tue, 12/9/08, Jeff Vorzimmer <> wrote:

    That kind of faux New York City that Kubrick created in Eyes is what you get in Highsmith's later books such as Found in the Street, which was written, obviously not in New York, but while in residence in Europe so that she was removed from the city in both time and distance and culture. How many times do characters in her later novels use British words instead of American? Sentences, as Mario pointed out, that would never be uttered by a native American.


    The idea that any writer might come up with a sentence in English "that would never be uttered by a native American." Seems like a broad stroke to me. I trust by "native American," you mean someone born or at least brought up somewhere in the United States, not specifically a so-called American Indian. The United States is a vast landscape. Here in New England colloquial expressions and dialects change from town to town, never mind state to state. These colloquial difference expand dramatically as you head south and west. I doubt even an American Henry Higgins could state credibly he knows all of them. Certainly there is a social group throughout the north east, from Baltimore to Boston, who affect an English intonation and whose speaking voices are referred to as "fog" by the more down-to-earth denizens of these cities.

    Frankly, if the dialogue in any writer's book is that much of a distraction, the book must have far bigger problems. I find Patricia Highsmith's twisting of legal statutes and totally absurd character motivation bigger issues than her dialogue. Still, her use of language is so good, her imagery so palpable, and her stories so entertaining, I tend to cut her a lot of slack.

    Patrick King


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