Friday, June 12, 2009

Breaking the Blogger Block... and Highsmith and Cain

Okay, I missed posting for the entire month of May. I actually read a bunch of books, saw some movies, and wrote a humorous short story (very unlike my other stories). And I blog all the time -- but on a client's website, not here.

The standout reads recently: (1) James M. Cain's Double Indemnity. I'd read The Postman Always Rings Twice, but not this one (but saw the movie years ago). Great read that shouldn't be skipped because you saw the movie. Brutal and wound tight -- the language and mood. I've been thinking about character back story -- and here the protagonist is young, professional, and successful, and with no malice, he is just ready, naturally and easily, to commit a brutal crime for money and lust.

And (2) Highsmith: A Romance of the 1950s, a memoir by Marijane Meaker (aka Vin Packer). I have read about 20 books by Highsmith; she is one of my favorites. Her biography, Beautiful Shadow by Andrew Wilson, covers more of her life and her works, but the Meaker book offers personal experiences and a mood that Wilson can't provide. The Meaker book also captures the milieu of intellectual and gay life in New York in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Meaker and Highsmith parted ways in about 1961 and never saw one another again until the early 1990s. At this point, Highsmith was even more cranky, and her antisemitism had become more obsessive and feverish.

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