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The Animal Lover's Book of Beastly Murder

The Animal Lover's Book of Beastly Murder

By the bestselling author of The Talented Mr Ripley, Carol and Strangers on a Train

‘Highsmith writes the verbal equivalent of a drug – easy to consume, darkly euphoric, totally addictive . . . (She) belongs in the moody company of Dostoevsky or Angela Carter’ Time Out

Nowhere is Patricia Highsmith’s affinity for animals more apparent than in The Animal-Lover’s Book of Beastly Murder, for here she transfers the murderous thoughts and rages most associated with humans onto the animals themselves.

ou will meet, for example, in ‘In the Dead of Truffle Season’, a truffle-hunting pig who tries to whet his own appetite for a while; or Jumbo in ‘Chorus Girl’s Absolutely Final Performance’, a lonely, old circus elephant who decides she’s had enough of show business and cruel trainers for one lifetime. In this satirical reprise of Kafka, cats, dogs, and breeding rodents are no longer ordinary beings in the happy home, but actually have the power to destroy the world in which we live.
The Black House

The Black House

By the bestselling author of The Talented Mr Ripley, Carol and Strangers on a Train

‘A border zone of the macabre, the disturbing, the not-quite accidental’ New York Times Book Review

The Black House eerily evokes the warm familiarities of suburban life: the manicured lawns, the white picket fences, and the local pubs, each providing the setting for Highsmith’s chilling portraits.

Some neighbours are playing scrabble one evening when their cat drags into their house not a bird, or some other catch, but human fingers; a guest arrives at a dinner party where he is not welcome, and his hosts conspire to find and attack his Achilles heel; the crew of the Emma C rescue a beautiful girl floating unconscious in the sea and tension explodes between the men on board; a childless thirty-something couple decide to invite two elderly folk to live with them, but have they been too generous?

In this collection of Patricia Highsmith’s wonderfully unsettling short stories, people’s motives are frequently twisted and no occurrence is without a sinister underlying meaning.
Mermaids on the Golf Course

Mermaids on the Golf Course

By the bestselling author of The Talented Mr Ripley, Carol and Strangers on a Train

‘One of the exhilarating effects of reading Highsmith’s stories . . . is their surehandednes, their amazing breadth and abundance . . . they compel attention and they add significantly to her already formidable presence’ Washington Post

The stories collected in Mermaids on the Golf Course, first published in 1985, are among Patricia Highsmith’s most mature, psychologically penetrating works.

Published in the latter part of her career, these stories reveal Highsmith’s mastery of the short story form. Moving between locales as various as France, Mexico, Zurich, and New York, Highsmith transforms the mundane features of everyday life into an eerie backdrop for her penetrating stories of violence, secrecy, and madness.

In ‘The Stuff of Madness’, Christopher Waggoner, increasingly dismayed by his wife’s habit of preserving dead pets in their garden, enacts a devious revenge by adding a bizarre new exhibit to their collection; in the title story, a eminent economist’s brush with death endows his once-familiar desires with tragic consequences; and in ‘A Shot from Nowhere’, a young painter who witnesses a gruesome death on a vacant Mexican Street becomes trapped in an unimaginable nightmare.

In these piercing stories, Highsmith creates a world all the more frightening because we recognise it as our own…
Slowly, Slowly in the Wind

Slowly, Slowly in the Wind

By the bestselling author of The Talented Mr Ripley, Carol and Strangers on a Train

‘Highsmith neatly dismantles the American suburban idyll, subverting the cliches of domestic bliss – nice neighbours, a child’s comforting glass of milk, and the dream of growing radishes – with macabre cruelty’ Andrew Wilson, author of, Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith

Slowly, Slowly in the Wind brilliantly assembles many of Patricia Highsmith’s most nuanced and psychologically suspenseful works.

Each of these twelve pieces, like all great short fiction, is a crystal-clear snapshot of lives both static and full of chaos.

In ‘The Pond’ Highsmith explores the unforeseen calamities that can unalterably shatter a single woman’s life, while ‘The Network’ finds sinister loneliness and joy in the mundane yet engrossing friendships of a small community of urban dwellers.

In this enduring and disturbing collection, Highsmith evokes the gravity and horror of her characters’ surroundings with evenhanded prose and a detailed imagination.
Eleven

Eleven

By the bestselling author of The Talented Mr Ripley, Carol and Strangers on a Train

‘What is striking about these stories is their integrity: they are all of a piece . . . a brilliant collection’ – Sunday Times

Unsuspecting victims are devoured by their own obsessions in this perfectly chilling collection of short stories. A man becomes devoted to his pet snails, with fatal results.

A young nanny turns arsonist in a bid to become heroine of the hour. A boy finally stands up to his mother, with knife in hand. Highsmith weaves a world claustrophobic in its intensity, disturbing in its mundanity, as she probes the dark corners of the human psyche.

Eleven is a collection of masterpieces of Highsmith’s particular art, full of compulsion, foreboding and cruel pleasures.
Women Who Wear The Breeches

Women Who Wear The Breeches

Delicious and dangerous, this collection of fairy tales is a glorious tribute to women with ‘do what thou wilt’ bravado – those who dare to wear the breeches. They shed their female garb (and modesty) and don the male’s role to save king, country, kin, and their own lives or for revenge, love, power and a good time. Shahrukh Husain’s tales from around the world – riddles, battle triumphs, bawdy and moving stories – prove that no heroine, or hero, is as exciting and daring as the irresitible cross-dresser of fairy tales.
Selected Stories

Selected Stories

A brother and sister, shattered by the horrors of war, find solace in a tender, incestuous ‘marriage’. A wife, bored and rancorous, stitches a widow’s quilt. An old level-crossing keeper watches over his speechless, disfigured niece. In this magnificent selection of her stories, ranging from 1932 to 1977, Sylvia Townsend Warner casts a compassionate but piercing eye on the oddities of love. There’s the joyously farcical story of the mouse and the four-poster bed, the strange fugue of a sad woman and her doppelganger cat, the composer unexpectedly spending an afternoon ‘living for others’. And finally, there’s the skein of stories reporting on the events of Elfland, precise, witty and strange. Readers who know this author’s work will be delighted, while newcomers will find the perfect introduction to a writer of incomparable style and substance.
Complete Short Stories

Complete Short Stories

Elizabeth Taylor is finally being recognised as an important British author: one of great subtlety, great compassion and great depth – Sarah Waters

Elizabeth Taylor, highly acclaimed author of classic novels such as Angel, A Game of Hide and Seek and Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, is also renowned for her powerful, acutely observed stories. Here for the first time, the stories – including some only recently rediscovered – are collected in one volume. From the awkward passions of lonely holiday-makers to the anticipation of three school friends preparing for their first dance, from the minor jealousies and triumphs of marriage to tales of outsiders struggling to adapt to the genteel English countryside, with a delicate, witty touch Elizabeth Taylor illuminates the nuances of ordinary lives.

Books included in the VMC 40th anniversary series include: Frost in May by Antonia White; The Collected Stories of Grace Paley; Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault; The Magic Toyshop by Angela Carter; The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann; Deep Water by Patricia Highsmith; The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West; Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; Heartburn by Nora Ephron; The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy; Memento Mori by Muriel Spark; A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor; and Faces in the Water by Janet Frame
Only Poet And Other Stories

Only Poet And Other Stories

A volume of Rebecca West’s short fiction. Including the novella “The Only Poet”, found amongst her papers after her death, this selection comprises unpublished work and published stories gathered from British and American journals and periodicals.
The Short Stories Of Willa Cather

The Short Stories Of Willa Cather

This rich selection of Willa Cather’s short fiction is drawn from every period of her writing life, and mixes the little known with the much anthologised. Here we have a range of stories from short, vivid sketches to novellas. They tell of the bitter lives of Nebraskan immigrants, and of the pull between provincial America and the cosmopolitan world of art; some of the most poignant deal with the challenges and dilemmas for the American artist. Her marvellous late stories are charged with beautifully controlled feeling, and eloquently describe the tensions and complications of family life. Cather also let herself go in these stories in ways she did not in the longer fiction, with harsh satires of New York, chilling glimpses of the supernatural, and strong expressions of sexual feeling. These are stories that add immeasurably to our perception of Cather’s range and complexity.
Lying In Bed

Lying In Bed

Do you cover up or reveal it all; seek revenge or just reassurance; let the truth be naked as the day or cloaked in a night-time story? The men and women of Polly Samson’s debut fiction all have stories to tell, pasts to forget, futures to forge. Manipulative or meek, used or using, all are aware of the power of truth, deception and little white lies to get what they want or sometimes what they deserve. Some are concerned with the economies of speech, those little ‘kindnesses’ which protect our loved ones but really ourselves; some investigate the warped logic which adults serve out to children to keep them ‘innocent’; all are concerned with the beds we make and the lies we tell in them. . .
The Doll: Short Stories

The Doll: Short Stories

FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF REBECCA

‘I want to know if men realise when they are insane. Sometimes I think that my brain cannot hold together, it is filled with too much horror – too much despair . . . I cannot sleep, I cannot close my eyes without seeing his damned face. If only it had been a dream.’

In ‘The Doll’, a waterlogged notebook is washed ashore. Its pages tell a dark story of obsession and jealousy. But the fate of its narrator is a mystery.

Most of the stories in this haunting collection were written early in Daphne du Maurier’s career – when she was still in her early twenties – yet they display her mastery of atmosphere, tension and intrigue and reveal a
cynicism far beyond her years.

She wrote exciting plots, she was highly skilled at arousing suspense, and she was, too, a writer of fearless originality – Guardian
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