Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday's Forgotten Book: Patricia Highsmith's A Game for the Living

It's been a while since I last read something by Patricia Highsmith. I haven't read enough of her work to call myself a fan, but I've liked what I've read. For some reason or another, it's almost twenty years since I've read any of the Tom Ripleys.

But I have a book project for which I'm supposed to read some Highsmith. I grabbed one of the Finnish translations from the shelf, but it proved to be one of her weaker books - or at least that's what I think. It was A Game for the Living from 1959, translated literally as Peli eläville in 2000. It's set in Mexico which makes it resemble some of Margaret Millar's work, but Millar seems quite liberal compared to Highsmith when it comes to her depiction of the Mexicans. Highsmith's view of them is racist: the Mexicans are stupid, arrogant, child-like, corrupt, violent, acting on a whim. One of the whims is a deadly one: a beautiful woman who's affiliated with many artists is killed brutally and the two men with whom she was in love with begin to act out their own guilts.

This seemed interesting at first, but then it bogged down to a mediocre thriller, with too many scenes in which the lead men were just suffering. The climax wasn't very grabbing, I'm sorry to say. It has to be said, though, that I had some difficulties to concentrate in reading the book - I had to read some other stuff at the same time and that always eats the experience. I'd be interested to hear about other opinions on the book.

Other Forgotten Books for this Friday can be found here at Patti Abbott's great blog.


George said...

I've been slowly working my way through all of Patricia Highsmith's works. She had a unique vision of the world. It shows up vividly in A GAME FOR THE LIVING.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I have never heard of that one before. She had her own unique vision and was apparently not a nice woman. I think she was Ripley.