Cry of the Owl

( 6 )

Overview

In a small Pennsylvania town, Robert Forrester is recuperating from a nasty divorce and a bout of psychological trouble. One evening, while driving home, he sees a pretty young woman framed by her bright kitchen window. Soon, he can?t keep himself away. But when Robert is inevitably discovered, obsession is turned on its head, and he finds himself unable to shake the young woman, nor entirely sure whether he should. Recently made into a major motion picture starring Julia Stiles and Paddy Considine, The Cry of ...

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Overview

In a small Pennsylvania town, Robert Forrester is recuperating from a nasty divorce and a bout of psychological trouble. One evening, while driving home, he sees a pretty young woman framed by her bright kitchen window. Soon, he can’t keep himself away. But when Robert is inevitably discovered, obsession is turned on its head, and he finds himself unable to shake the young woman, nor entirely sure whether he should. Recently made into a major motion picture starring Julia Stiles and Paddy Considine, The Cry of the Owl is essential Highsmith, a modern classic ready to be reborn.

Robert Forester is a fundamentally decent man who attracts trouble like a magnet, and when he begins watching the domestic simplicity of Jenny's life through her window, the deceptive calm of suburban Pennsylvania is shattered.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for The Cry of the Owl

“Kafka with a vengeance.” —The Spectator (London)

“Highsmith generates suspense out of a different sort of fear: not the fear of death, which drives most crime-centered entertainment, but the pettier, more intimate dread of humiliation, of being caught on the street with nothing on....There’s something else here, hard to identify, pulling us along relentlessly, as thrillers do—an undertow, a surge of third-rail current.” —The New Yorker

“The Cry of the Owl is a deceptively easy stroll toward personal chaos and destruction. It is thoroughly chilling because nothing seems farfetched. Odd, yes, but believable. . . . The Cry of the Owl is creepy and unsettling, a taut psychological thriller.” —Detroit Free Press

“One of her lesser-known works … and one of her most unsettling. Which is saying plenty. … The crime writer Elmore Leonard has written a host of novels with the same basic plot: Plans go wrong. The story message driving all of Highsmith’s work is similarly simple and clear: We live on thin ice. Highsmith revolts some readers, yet hypnotizes many others. She’s sui generis, a writer of almost occult power.” —Richard Rayner, Los Angeles Times

“[A] sinister, moody psychological novel. … a dreadful atmosphere of growing menace lurks over the story as its damaged, emotionally disturbed characters interact and form dangerous, obsessive relationships. This is a Highsmith tour-de-force—a must read for those who’ve tested Highsmith territory with the Ripley novels. The Cry of the Owl moves with precision skill to its stunning conclusion.” —MostlyFiction

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780871132901
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Series: Highsmith, Patricia Series
  • Edition description: 1st Atlantic Monthly Press ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Highsmith
Though she penned such great psychological crime novels as Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith's gifts went largely unrecognized by American readers until recently. Fortunately, Highsmith's bizarre, subtly shaded novels were too good to remain obscure.

Biography

Suspense novels are often described as "chilling," but no one turns down the reader's emotional thermostat quite like Patricia Highsmith, author of such haunting psychological thrillers as Strangers on a Train and creator of the sociopathic series protagonist Tom Ripley. During her life, Highsmith was a popular author in Europe, where she lived; in her native United States, however, her books went sporadically in and out of print for decades. Now, the writer whom Graham Greene called "the poet of apprehension" has finally gained recognition in the States -- not only as a master of the suspense genre, but as a literary author of rare talent.

Highsmith grew up in Texas and New York, but spent most of her adult life in England, France and Switzerland. By most accounts she was a loner who avoided other people, including other writers; but she did have early help in her career from Truman Capote, who got her a stint at the Yaddo writers' colony in New York. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train, tells the story of an architect and a psychopath who meet on a train and "swap" murders. The book gained Highsmith considerable fame, especially after it was made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock. A second novel, The Price of Salt, was printed under a pseudonym after her first publishers turned it down. Though her subsequent works didn't sell well in her home country, she kept turning out the kinds of novels and short stories the New Yorker called "bad dreams that keep us thrashing for the rest of the night."

Several movies have been loosely based on Highsmith's books, including Danny DeVito's Hitchcock spoof Throw Momma From the Train; Wim Wenders' The American Friend, adapted from Ripley's Game; and Purple Noon, a French film based on The Talented Mr. Ripley. But it was Academy Award-winning director Anthony Minghella's lush screen adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley, released four years after Highsmith's death and 44 years after the book's publication, that introduced Highsmith to a wider audience and led to a rediscovery of her works.

Subtle enough for a seminar yet entertaining enough for the beach, Highsmith's coolly narrated tales of terror display an observant eye for social behavior as well as individual psychology. Most books in the suspense genre provide a hero whose fundamental honesty and decency stand as bulwarks against the evil he or she confronts. But in a Highsmith novel, the reader is alone with victim and victimizer -- and an unsettling sense of empathy with both.

As Francis Wyndham has noted, Highsmith's "peculiar brand of horror comes less from the inevitability of disaster, than from the ease with which it might have been avoided. The evil of her agents is answered by the impotence of her patients -- this is not the attraction of opposites, but in some subtle way the call of like to like. When they finally clash in the climactic catastrophe, the reader's sense of satisfaction may derive from sources as dark as those which motivate Patricia Highsmith's destroyers and their fascinated victims."

Good To Know

Patricia Highsmith was born Mary Patricia Plangman; her parents divorced soon after she was born, however, and she was given her stepfather's last name. After Highsmith graduated from college, she lived for a time with her mother and stepfather in Greenwich Village, where she wrote comic books to support herself, including scripts for the Superman series.

A lesbian herself, Highsmith is thought to have written the first American novel in which a homosexual love story has a happy ending. The novel, The Price of Salt, was published under the pseudonym Claire Morgan; it was reissued in 1984 (as Carol), but didn't appear under the writer's real name until 1991.

Highsmith once told an interviewer that the only suspense writer she read was the master -- Dostoevsky, over and over. In her book Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction, she wrote, "I think most of Dostoyevsky's books would be called suspense books, were they being published today for the first time. But he would be asked to cut, because of production costs."

The premise of The Talented Mr. Ripley was inspired by Henry James's The Ambassadors, in which a widow sends her fiance from America to Paris to fetch her wayward son.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Mary Patricia Plangman (birth name); Claire Morgan (pen name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 19, 1921
    2. Place of Birth:
      Fort Worth, Texas
    1. Date of Death:
      February 4, 1995
    2. Place of Death:
      Locarno, Switzerland

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 13, 2011

    Full of Twists and Turns....

    This is a captivating psychological thriller.Very interesting plot.What you would expect from a writer like Patricia Highsmith .The ending is left to the reader`s imagination though.Try it!.I`m not going to spoil the fun!...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2011

    Check this one out !

    Interesting psychological thriller with more than a few twists and turns.Its not cheap crime fiction.I`m not going to spoil the book being I`m the first to review it but I can say it was a good read.Have fun!!.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2013

    A well wtitten tale

    An excellent read!

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  • Posted July 8, 2012

    Highsmith in her element - pulling you. Into the psychopathy of

    Highsmith in her element - pulling you. Into the psychopathy of her protagonist in a way to compelling to put down until the last page.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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