Friday 29 April 2016

Patricia Highsmith, Strangers on a Train (Pan, 1968)

No. 9 in a series of posts on books I've bought but haven't got round to blogging about properly – indeed may never get round to blogging about properly – so this will have to do. NB: linked in this Friday's Forgotten Books roundup.

What is it?
The 1968 first Pan paperback printing of Patricia Highsmith's 1950 debut, Strangers on a Train.

Who designed the cover?
I'm not sure, but from the mid- to late-1960s (and onwards) Pan's covers changed from being largely illustrative in nature to largely photographic, at the behest, according to the Pan Paperback Collectors site, of editor David Larkin, so it's likely Larkin had something to do with it. The same styling, incidentally – a photo of a collection of objects to do with the novel's plot – can be seen on the 1967 Pan printings of Highsmith's The Glass Cell and A Suspension of Mercy.

Where and when did I buy it?
I didn't. My mum bought it in, I believe, a charity shop, and gave it to me when she last visited a couple of weeks ago.

Why did my mum buy it?
To read it; like me she's a Highsmith admirer, although she didn't get on with this one. Mind you, it's by no means my favourite Highsmith either, even among the non-Ripley books. Still, as Highsmith's debut, and arguably the template for much of her work, Strangers on a Train is an important novel in the writer's oeuvre, and certainly deserves its own dedicated post on Existential Ennui, something that, remarkably given my Highsmith obsession, it hasn't had heretofore.

Have I read it yet?
I have, a few years back, in its 1952 Corgi first British paperback edition.