Staff Picks: Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley)

Patricia Highsmith is best known for her crime novels The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers On A Train – both made into classic films. But she also wrote a lot of other novels and short stories that feature such disparate subjects as animals taking revenge on cruel people, giant snails, and icy and claustrophobic tales of daily life.

In fact, it was the giant snails that got me as a kid. A professor goes in search of legendary giants snails on a Pacific Island and, well, he does find them.

There’s also the dinner party at which the host’s cat brings in a finger, a mysterious furry thing that lives in the birdhouse that may or may not have gotten into the narrator’s house and lots more stories guaranteed to put a chill in your heart.

All Highsmith books here..

Book Review: The Presentation Secrets Of Steve Jobs

I can recommend wholeheartedly The Presentation Secrets Of Steve Jobs.

This book pretty much sums up the current cutting edge approach to presentations – honesty, passion and preparation.  External appearance doesn’t matter so much as authenticity.

There are also tips on how to organize a presentation. For example, define an enemy or problem and show the audience how your idea overcomes the problem.  Also create an a-ha moment that the audience can take home with them mentally.

Along the way, the book also discusses the correct use of slide images and text behind you and the correct use of props. Lots more in this one – check it out.

Search Palgrave’s Reference Sources for High-Level Research Help

This is one of my go-to sources for in-depth introductions and entries on complex topics. This is much better than Wikipedia or general encyclopedias. When people start doing research they very often need summaries of their pretty intricate topic. How else are you going to understand those complex journal articles?

All Palgrave’s books here – including online!

 

Audiobooks on CD Are Great For Commuters

Check out one of our audiobooks on CD titles.

You can search here and limit to audiobooks or walk up to the third floor and browse the titles (they are in the upper right hand of the floor, or ask to be shown the area).

We have everything from ancient history to psychology to recent works like this title from Erik Larson (In the Garden of Beasts).

Featured Author: Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club)

All Chuck Palahniuk books here.

Chuck Palahniuk is best known as the author of Fight Club, the classic novel that was also made into a classic film. The novel opens with the memorable line “Tyler gets me a job as a waiter, after that Tyler’s bushmen got into my mouth and saying, the first step to eternal life is you have to die.”

From there on we learn the tale of a milquetoastish individual who discovers his Nietzschean will to power via the machinations of the mysterious Tyler Durden. The first rule of Fight Club is not to talk about Fight Club.

The author also went on to write several equally unusual books. Link above.

Featured Author: Jim Thompson (The Grifters, The Getaway)

All Jim Thompson books here

Jim Thompson wrote a lot of dark crime thrillers set in the southwest.  They are classic American noir: doomed characters, cheap hotels, lonely towns – the works.  Since you are living in San Marcos, you should know that one of his most famous novels – The Getaway – was made into a classic film that was partially filled right here in San Marcos!

From Contemporary Popular Writers

The Getaway (1959) provides a telling example of just how Thompson can alter the boundaries of normal crime fiction; it begins as a relatively orthodox big caper novel about the usual daring and capable crook who plans a perfect crime that inevitably goes awry. He takes the premise much further, however, when the criminal mastermind, Doc, must escape by, among other difficulties, being buried alive and tunneling through excrement–a characteristic Thompson touch–before ending up at the perfect hideout, an expensive resort designed especially for crooks on the lam. Once there, however, Doc realizes that he has descended into a version of Hell itself, truly a last resort.

Some of Thompson’s titles, like A Swell-Looking Babe (1954) and A Hell of a Woman (1954), suggest the rather quaint raciness and directness of his pulp antecedents; others, like The Killer inside Me (1952) and The Nothing Man (1954), neatly sum up the perversity and emptiness of his vision. Like the later Pop. 1280 (1964), which it resembles in plot, narrator, and murder-by-murder progression, The Killer inside Me details the virtually motiveless violence of a pure psychopath, a man who is almost beautiful in his entirely conscious, unsullied madness. The narrator-protagonist, Deputy Lou Ford, beats women for his (and sometimes their) sexual pleasure, commits a series of brutal murders, and, most horribly, enjoys conversing in a series of exaggeratedly idiotic platitudes that mock his listeners, readers, and perhaps even himself. His thoroughly insincere harangue about sending black people back to Africa, as well as his reiteration of sentiments about clouds with silver linings, heat and humidity, rain bringing rainbows, and so forth, betray his cunning madness and his wholesale hatred better than all his terrible violence. Even worse than the banality of evil, for Thompson, is the conscious banality of its utterance.

Extending its despair even further than The Killer inside Me, The Nothing Man may serve as the best example of Thompson’s vaunted nihilism. Its protagonist, a newspaperman named Clinton Brown, who talks occasionally like Lou Ford, has suffered essentially the same war wound as Jake Barnes; his lack of a penis defines his nothingness and impels him to destruction. He drinks, scorns, hurts, and kills, but is so much a nothing man that he cannot even get himself blamed for the crimes he commits; his doom is to continue his life as a nothing man.

Although his style often breaks down into the mixture of urgent pacing and heavy facetiousness of too many pulp writers, and his dialogue seems less acceptable than his narration, Thompson’s characters, actions, and themes underline the originality of his achievement. Within a narrow and violent world his work attains a special and most disturbing originality; some of his peers write better, but none, like it or not, attains so bleak a vision of human emptiness.