Feature

Also of interest ... in writers’ lives

<em>The Talented Miss Highsmith</em> by Joan Schenkar; <em>Raymond Carver</em> by Carol Sklenicka;<strong> </strong><em>Literary Life</em> by Larry McMurtry; <em>Too Much Money</em> by D

The Talented Miss Highsmith by Joan Schenkar (St. Martin’s, $40)Joan Schenkar has written a 700-page biography of the author of The Talented Mr. Ripley that is “as original as its contemptible, miserable, irresistible subject,” said Daniel Mallory in the Los Angeles Times. Ignoring chronology, Schenkar instead presents a “dazzling” taxonomy of the obsessions that made Patricia Highsmith both a revolutionary writer of suspense and a nasty piece of work. Her virulent prejudices and her hundreds of lesbian lovers all find a place in Schenkar’s splendid portrait of this puzzling, brilliant woman.

Raymond Carver by Carol Sklenicka (Scribner, $35)Raymond Carver’s life “reads like a Raymond Carver story,” said David Wiegand in the San Francisco Chronicle. “There’s no easy answer to the question of why Carver felt so haunted all his life,” or why he drank heavily until he was 40, but this “exhaustive and definitive” new biography paints the sawmill worker’s son as a classic outsider. Before his death, at 50, of lung cancer, Carver did find a measure of peace, but his is still a sad tale.

Literary Life by Larry McMurtry (Simon & Schuster, $24)This second memoir from the novelist Larry McMurtry is “the kind of slipshod book” that’s appealing because a reader has to hunt for its best parts, said Dwight Garner in The New York Times. McMurtry has decided to write his life story as a trilogy, but “his heart isn’t in it; not even next door.” His appealingly “crotchety outsider Texas persona” buys him a lot of goodwill, though—enough that you’re pleased just to happen upon a lazy anecdote, say, about taking Susan Sontag to a stock car race.

Too Much Money by Dominick Dunne (Crown, $26)Dominick Dunne’s “transparently autobiographical” posthumous novel proves a “fun romp” through the high-society world he knew so well, said Craig Wilson in USA Today. Though it’s no surprise to hear that rich New Yorkers are “mean, manipulative, and spoiled,” Dunne fans will be interested to see his fictional alter ego navigate feuds with a billionaire heiress and a disgraced former U.S. congressman.

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