Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

3.5 Stars
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My buddy Luv Lorn shared a little list recently called “17 Books for People Who Hate People” and I immediately thought, “hey, that’s me!” Mitchell concurred. I ended up with a super stinker off the list as my first selection, but luckily I fared better with The Talented Mr. Ripley.

I knew the premise of this book to be Tom Ripley, an acquaintance of Dickie Greenleaf, is asked by Dickie’s father to go to Italy and attempt to convince Dickie to return to the U.S. I also knew at some point Tom’s developing friendship with Dickie while in Europe morphs into more of an obsession and that . . . . stuff happens. (No spoilers on this one, friends.) That was about it, though. I had never seen the movie because this . . . .

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is the most punchable face in all of mankind and I just can’t watch his movies. Completely unfounded and I’m sure Mr. Damon is a pleasant fellow, but I want to slap the crap out of him whenever I see him. (How will I ever deal with the movie version of The Martian????? Ohhhhhh woe is me!) I also can’t forget to mention the film co-starred Goop as the leading lady and, well, eww . . .

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The one thing that might be worth taking a little looksee is this . . .

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Purrrrrrr. Anyway, enough about the movie I never saw. This is a book review (and obviously a super highbrow one at that). For a story that is 60 years old, The Talented Mr. Ripley holds up to the test of time remarkably well. There are a few “lost in translation” moments when dealing with things like money and the idea that a couple grand is a giant bankroll that will float you through Europe almost indefinitely, as well as the use of outdated lingo such as “sissy” or “pansy” used to describe Tom. I’m sure some might take offense to whether or not Tom was attracted to Dickie sexually is used as kind of a giant pink elephant in the room throughout the story, but I thought it worked well as a diversionary tactic. It helped hide the fact that Tom was not interested in anyone sexually (which he flat out tells you through his narrative), but he was quite possibly a sociopath who had fixated on obtaining a lifestyle like Dickie’s that no one seemed to notice.

Recommended to anyone interested in a real slow roller type of suspense novel, an addition to your “modern classics” list, or anyone who likes to read about people you’re supposed to hate (but really kind of love). Half star removed because there are FOUR more of these in the series? NOOOOOOOPE. As far as I’m concerned, this one is a standalone. Tom’s story does not have enough material for more books and I don’t believe the others could even come close to being as good as the first.

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