Tremor of Forgery

( 3 )

Overview

The Tremor of Forgery is considered by many to be Patricia Highsmith's finest novel. Set in Tunisia in the mid-1960s, it is the story of Howard Ingham, an American writer who has gone abroad to gather material for a movie too sordid to be set in America. Ingham is cool towards Ina, the girlfriend he left behind in New York, but his feelings start to change when she doesn't answer his increasingly aggravated letters, and John Castlewood, the filmmaker who hired Ingham, fails to show in Tunisia. Amid the tea shops ...

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The Tremor of Forgery

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Overview

The Tremor of Forgery is considered by many to be Patricia Highsmith's finest novel. Set in Tunisia in the mid-1960s, it is the story of Howard Ingham, an American writer who has gone abroad to gather material for a movie too sordid to be set in America. Ingham is cool towards Ina, the girlfriend he left behind in New York, but his feelings start to change when she doesn't answer his increasingly aggravated letters, and John Castlewood, the filmmaker who hired Ingham, fails to show in Tunisia. Amid the tea shops and alleys of the souk, the sun-blasted architecture, and the beaches and hotels frequented by international tourists, will Ingham’s morality survive the withering heat? Includes an introduction by Francine Prose.

An American writer is sent to Tunisia to gather material for a movie, but when his producer fails to show up, he stays on and works instead on a novel. Intimations of violence soon cast deep shodows, and he finds himself an accomplice to murder.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Her best novel." —The New Yorker

"Larger, funnier, and more thematically ambitious than any of Highsmith’s other novels."—Francine Prose

“Highsmith is the poet of apprehension rather than fear. … Highsmith's finest novel to my mind is The Tremor of Forgery, and if I were asked what it is about I would reply, 'apprehension.'” —Graham Greene

"Highsmith has produced work as serious in its implications and as subtle in its approach as anything being done in the novel today." —Julian Symons

"Whereas we read Stephen King or Ruth Rendell to relish the thrills that come from carefully controlled verbal terror, Highsmith is not to be taken so lightly. She conveys a firm, unshakable belief in the existence of evil—personal, psychological, and political."—Boston Phoenix

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780871132581
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Series: Highsmith, Patricia Series
  • Edition description: 1st Atlantic Press ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 903,944
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (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
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 7, 2014

    I've read about everything Patricia Highsmith has ever written a

    I've read about everything Patricia Highsmith has ever written and she remains one of my favorite authors.  She is perhaps best known for
    the Ripley books and Strangers on a Train.  (Alfred Hitchcock reportedly cheated her when he purchased the rights for Strangers on a
    Train and she was not well-compensated for her work.)  I know that I have read this book in the past but look forward to a second reading
    and having it available on my Nook.  Some of you are perhaps familiar with her well-known short story, "The Lottery," found in many high
    school anthologies. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2014

    Found it boring.

    This was my first Highsmith after reading so much about her. I agree she writes well. Maybe in past times what she wrote might have been interesting. To me it the pace was slow and boring and the psychological insights less than eye-opening.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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