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Strangers on a Train (Penguin Longman Penguin Readers) Paperback – Import, October 5, 2005
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|Paperback, Import, October 5, 2005||
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From Library Journal
From the I can't believe this is out of print department comes Highsmith's white-knuckler and the basis of the Hitchcock film of the same name. With this, her first novel, Highsmith set the pattern she would follow in later books, introducing sociopaths who are so subtle they can pass unnoticed in the world around them.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“Murder, in Patricia Highsmith’s hands, is made to occur almost as casually as the bumping of a fender.”
- New York Review of Books
“Patricia Highsmith’s novels are peerlessly disturbing.”
- The New Yorker
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"The train tore along with an angry, irregular rhythm. it was having to stop at smaller and more frequent stations, where it would wait impatiently for a moment, then attack the prairie again. But progress was imperceptible. The prairie only undulated, like a vast, pink-tan blanket being casually shaken. The faster the train went, the more buoyant and taunting the undulations. Guy took his eyes from the window and hitched himself back against the seat. Miriam would delay the divorce at best, he thought."
Here, meanwhile, are the opening sentence of this eBook:
"The train rushed along angrily. Guy was thinking about Miriam. He saw her round pink face, her cruel mouth … he started to hate her."
I don't know who took it upon themselves to rewrite Highsmith's book, but this version (ASIN: B01FKPEFP0; published by "MUMOO") isn't her novel.
The actual eBook of Strangers on a Train is published by W. W. Norton & Company. This reads more like an unauthorized, bootleg version that would be better titled STRANGERS ON A TRAIN FOR DUMMIES. I don't know why Amazon is allowing this garbage to be sold on its site. Beware.
* * * * *
Maybe I'm being unfair. After all, apparently Patricia Highsmith wasn't appreciated in the States during her lifetime either.
Strangers on a Train is a genius suspense novel. Two men strike up a casual conversation on a train that, with the mind- and tongue-loosening help of booze, soon turns dark, and eventually, deadly. Charles Bruno is a very disturbed young man, and an alcoholic, who hates his father. Guy is an up-and-coming straight-laced architect. Bruno suggests that since they each have people they hate - Bruno his father, Guy his wife - that they "exchange" murders. Each would have no motive for their killing, thus increasing the likelihood that they would get away with it. (Given how far forensics have come, this plan now makes little sense, but just go with it.)
What becomes obvious to the reader (at least this reader) is that Bruno has a homosexual fixation with Guy (much as Tom Ripley has one with his victim, Dickie, in the Talented Mr. Ripley). Highsmith, herself a lesbian at a time when homosexuality was considered a psychological pathology, liked exploring these themes in her writing. I doubt anyone could do it now. People would be screaming "Why are the gay guys always killers?!!"
Highsmith delves deep into the psychology of each character, especially that of Guy, who becomes a murderer through an unsettling alchemy with Bruno. If Bruno is a psychopath who was destined to kill, Guy is the average man driven to it by happening upon a stranger whose demonic influence opens up the previously buried neural pathways to his darkest self.
P.S. I'm reading in the one-star reviews that this is an abridged version. I most definitely did not read an abridged version, so must have put this in the wrong place. Make sure you get the full length version.
Perhaps Strangers on a Train’s biggest strength is simply its deep psychological aspects. Once the “deed” is done, Guy’s world turns inside out and there is a sense that he, psychologically, is no match for Bruno. Charles Bruno is one of the most relentless and manipulative sociopaths one may encounter in crime fiction. While not physically imposing, Bruno emotionally breaks down the will of Guy at many points.
Another interesting angle explored is the nature of duality within the individual. There seems to be made a case from the author that duel aspects exist in individuals, as is suggested by the character of Guy Haines. Much of the novel focuses on his internally conflicted self: “The anxiety had always been within himself, a battle of himself against himself, so torturous…”
Highsmith lets you in to Guy’s mind and lets you stew around a bit, and see how the turn of events takes its toll on him. What is fascinating is that one side there is a seeming normalcy to events within Guy’s life, yet under the surface there is constant disarray and chaos.
Besides this, Strangers on the Train is just a cleverly plotted psychological thriller that builds with each chapter. As much a study in crime as it is the aftermath of a crime, Highsmith’s novel edges its way towards a tension-filled conclusion as Bruno pushes his way further and further into Guy’s life. Definitely a read for the fan of psychological thrillers.
Most recent customer reviews
My problem is with the editing off this edition.Read more