Patricia Highsmith: Her Diaries and Notebooks 1941–1995

Liveright. Nov. 2021. 992p. ed. by Anna von Planta. ISBN 9781324090991. $39.95. LIT
“My secrets—the secrets that everyone has—are here, in black and white,” Patricia Highsmith wrote in one of her diaries. More than 50 years of the novelist’s diaries and notebooks have been assembled in this volume, painstakingly annotated for context by Highsmith’s longtime editor Von Planta. Beginning with her 20th birthday, the diaries speak to Highsmith’s certainty of her own potential. With a presentient awareness of her audience, Highsmith’s candid entries reflect a determined writer and an uneasy heart as they outline her work, reading, and social life. More than an impression of worldly affairs, Highsmith’s notebooks dovetail her public identities as the mystery writer whose Strangers on a Train became a Hitchcock film, and the cult-classic author of the lesbian love story The Price of Salt.
VERDICT An exceptional effort to make primary source material on one of America’s best known mystery authors more accessible. Sure to be a resource for future scholars, these annotated diaries will also appeal to fans of Eileen Myles’s Chelsea Girls and Diane di Prima’s Recollections of my Life as a Woman, offering a frank and detailed account of a woman and writer coming of age.
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