Nothing That Meets the Eye

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 267

Patricia Highsmith was born in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1921. She grew up in New York City and published her first novel, Strangers on a Train, in 1950. The novel is considered a suspense classic, and it was made into a gripping film by legendary director Alfred Hitchcock. Over her writing career, Highsmith published more than twenty novels and several volumes of short stories. She died on February 4, 1995, in Switzerland. Highsmith gained literary acclaim for her ability to write intense psychological studies of morally bankrupt characters. As a writer, she is not as much concerned with who committed the crime as with understanding the criminal psyche.

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In 2001, The Selected Stories of Patricia Highsmith was published and became a best-seller. The critical and public response to the collection was almost overwhelming. Written between 1938 and 1982, the twenty-eight stories included in Nothing That Meets the Eye are more fine examples of Highsmith’s elegantly crafted studies of criminal misfits. The collection is divided into two parts. Part I covers the years 1938 to 1949, and Part II covers the years 1952 to 1982. Never one to sentimentalize her subject, the stories do not flinch from the dread that is never far from the surface. While it is not easy to sympathize with her misfits, it does become clear that they do have grievances against a society that treated them badly. The discerning reader of psychological fiction will relish Nothing That Meets the Eye and seek out other works by the prolific Patricia Highsmith. In addition to the twenty-eight stories, the collection includes an “Afterword” by Paul Ingendaay and “Notes on the Stories” by Anna von Planta.

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