FFB: Edith’s Diary by Patricia Highsmith

51iefe949hl._sx317_bo1204203200_Catching up on my neglected Highsmith novels: so focused on the Ripliad lately, it’s good to remember to step aside for her other work. In her introduction Denise Mina talks about this novel being her gateway to the creepy world of Pat, completely by accident. What an introduction! This book is pure dread. It’s crime by content, but as in many of her books, the crime is hardly the main plot element. Edith’s crumbling dissolution as life keeps disappointing her is utterly terrifying as well as perfectly drawn.

It would never get published today because ‘head hopping’ is considered an insurmountable crime. Highsmith hops adroitly from Edith’s increasingly buzzing head to that of her wretched offspring, the supremely creepy Cliffie — incel supreme! — without losing the reader at all or making it too jarring. The jumping off points are well chosen. Highsmith is so good at building unsettling creepiness — Cry of the Owl and This Sweet Sickness also do that superbly. But I think the choice of this invisible middle-aged woman adds a poignant sorrow that breaks you in a way those two novels don’t.

There’s a moment when Edith stands in the little stream in her aunt’s back garden, looking up at the house where she had often been happy. She recalls a line from a Goethe lieder (this is Highsmith, you know), ‘Kennst du das Land?’ and it captures perfectly the distance between the sometime happy child and the woman completely lost in fantasy. Edith remembers the line about the roof and the pillars, but the line that really resonates is, ‘What have they done to you, poor child?’

Highsmith shows you the obvious things, like Cliffie as a child trying to kill the family cat, or her husband’s very dull, very middle-class affair — but in throwaway lines, she also lets you know the cold family life Edith had even as a child. It’s striking that as she veers into insanity the woman not only moves from left-wing political activism to bizarre right-wing diatribes (that often match the author’s opinions) but she also becomes more creative, both in writing her alternative diary-life and her self-taught sculpture. So Pat.

Check out the FFBs at Patti’s blog. Or maybe Todd’s.

Out Now: Love is a Grift

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FOX SPIRIT: Out today! The amazing Love is a Grift by Graham Wynd!
With fabulous cover by S.L Johnson, this collection offers a fresh take on a classic genre, that begins with obsession and most often ends with death.

And don’t forget to check out the exclusive Love is a Grift music and artwork merchandise!

Love is a Grift can be found in ebook formats in our store here. The paperback can be bought at Amazon (N.B. there seems to be a slight delay with the paperback).

Love is a Grift, the theme song can be heard and purchased at Bandcamp or CDBaby.

Exclusive Love is a Grift merchandise can be found at S. L. Johnson’s store at Tee Public or Red Bubble.

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GO BIG OR GO HOME? CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

Jude Cowan Montague: Winter Hill Sings

From Linear Obsessional Recordings, a seasonal treat that resonates. The CD is long sold out but you can download it for free.

For the first release of 2013, Linear Obsessional is delighted to present a radical new EP by Jude Cowan Montague.

“Winter Hill Sings” is a collection of short multi-tracked vocal works informed by folk singing and hill walking. The accompanying PDF booklet includes new texts, poetry and artwork by Jude.

credits

released January 26, 2013

Recorded by Brian O’Shaughnessy at Bark Studios, Walthamstow in 2012.
Jude Cowan Montague: Voice and instruments
(double bass, phono-fiddle, percussion)
All songs by Jude Cowan Montague & Trad