July 23rd, 2012 | Uncategorized

price of salt

This is my re-creation of the cover of Patricia Highsmith’s pseudonymous lesbian novel which came out in paperback in 1952 or 1953. (I drew this as one of my top ten books for the Unpacking My Library project that I blogged about two years ago.)

W.W. Norton has just re-issued the works of Highsmith as e-books. Check out their great website. You can “choose your Highsmith” by answering a branching list of funny questions about what exactly you’re in the mood to read. And you can see a 3 minute promotional video with people like Joanne Schenkar and Terry Castle and me (Alas,no! I did not get to meet the infamous Castle or the mysterious Schenkar…we were all interviewed separately.) talking about Highsmith’s work.

Patricia Highsmith – EBooks Now Available from WW Norton on Vimeo.

66 Responses to “highsmithery”

  1. LondonBoy says:

    I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never read anything by Highsmith. Another item on my reading list…

  2. Anonymous says:

    What fun! Thanks for the tip. And I love the cover re-creation.

  3. Kate L says:

    The genre that dared not speak its name! πŸ™‚

    Sally Ride, third woman and first American woman in space (after Soviet cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 and Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982) has died of pancreatic cancer. She was 61.

  4. hairball_of_hope says:

    Totally off-topic… I’ve been reading obituaries of Dr. Sally K. Ride, physicist and astronaut, and as it happens, she’s been outted in death. The obituaries say “Dr. Ride is survived by her partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy.”

    She was reportedly an extremely private person, loathe to put her name on things or to cash in on her celebrity. But I do wish she could have added her voice to the LGBT chorus during her lifetime.

    A bit about O’Shaughnessy can be found here: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/365992/20120723/tam-shaughnessy-oshaughnessy-sally-ride-lesbian-partner.htm

    (… goes back to singing “Ride, Sally Ride” on the 115th anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s birth …)

  5. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L

    Ah, GMTA (Great Minds Think Alike). One thing I learned from reading Ride’s obits is that she was advised by Billie Jean King to quit college and become a professional tennis player. When a student asked her why she went into science instead of tennis, she said it was “a bad forehand.”

    (… goes back to singing “Fly Me To The Moon” …)

  6. Kate L says:

    hairball… this just in about Sally Ride. She was a card-carrying member of the Sacred Sisterhood of Sappho! Yes, the first American woman in space was also the first lesbian in space! πŸ™‚

  7. Andrew B says:

    Kate L, 6, “first lesbian”? How do you know? Have you checked in with the two Soviet women?

    And the Wicked Pickett is one of the best singers ever, but “Mustang Sally” was kind of an insult to Sally Ride. “All you wanna do is ride around, Sally”? I think not. But here’s a fantastic early number.

    And here’s a short Atlantic piece on American women who wanted to be astronauts in the 60s and NASA’s fucked up attitude toward them. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to puke.

    Finally, just for appearance’s sake, throwing in a scrap of Bechdel-related content, I like the way Alison inked a stain on the bottom of the book cover. That is really what old paperbacks wind up looking like. If I put Highsmith on the bottom of my reading list, that will effectively mean I’ll never get to her. I might have to let her jump the queue.

    (BTW, Alison… no freshly turned piles of dirt in the back yard, right? No peculiar objects in the “meat” section of the compost? Because you scared me, just a little, in that video. Those hill folk, you never know quite what they’re up to…)

  8. Lena says:

    ‘The price of salt (Carol)’ will be turned into a movie!

  9. […] Alison Bechdel posted highsmithery. […]

  10. Wow, Lena!!!
    I was just thinking TODAY what an amazing movie The Price of Salt would make! Thank so much for this link. Cate Blanchett…as Carol, I presume? And Mia Wasikowska as Therese?

    This is really great news. I hope John Crowley gets it right!

  11. hairball_of_hope says:

    Off-topic shoutout to our UK friends…

    Hope you’re enjoying/enduring the crowds and security hassles of the Olympics. And perhaps, of course, a bit of the actual athletic contests as well. I’m wondering if media coverage of Mitt Romney’s gaffes is a big deal (“Mitt the Twit” read the Sun’s headline; The Daily Telegraph wrote, “Mitt Romney is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive.”), or am I simply a victim of my own schadenfreude?


    I do think the Telegraph has it wrong, Joe Biden is famous/infamous for opening his mouth only to change feet, so Romney does have significant competition in the offensive mal-charm department. Perhaps one of the most amazing accomplishments of Mr. Obama is that he’s managed to muzzle Biden and his gaffes for most of his term. Boring and Biden, two terms I would never have associated.

    (… goes back to cheering the cube farm Olympians as we play paper wad baseball in the aisle …)

  12. NLC says:

    AB in a “what are you reading now” interview from the NYT:


  13. Kate L says:

    hairball… how did you fare in the NYC storm? The front that moved through New York City stretched all the way to Amarillo in the Texas panhandle (great Mexican food), and went thru Smallville earlier in the day.

  14. Kate L says:

    Also, how did A.B. fare in the storm in Vermont?

  15. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    *SQUEAL!* AB liked State of Wonder! I adored State of Wonder. Patchett has such a way with novels of abject rescue, and she does South america very well. AB, you might like Ian McDonald’s Brasyl, a parallel universe novel set in South America.

    (goes off humming to herself “AB liked State of Wonder!”)…

  16. Acilius says:

    I’ve been searching my memory this week trying to recall how I knew that Sally Ride was partnered with a woman. Because I have known that for years, and thought everyone else knew it, too. Maybe I’m just old enough to recognize the closet-speak in newspaper references to “her good friend”? But I think there must have been something public, about 20 years ago, that made it clear.

  17. Nomi says:

    Love the drawing! I wish it were poster-size and in my living room.

  18. shadocat says:

    Nomi; that would be awesome, wouldn’t it?

  19. Andrew B says:

    Acilius, 16, last week was the first time I heard about Ride’s partner, which means very little. But according to this piece at The Atlantic’s site, her obituary was the first public acknowledgment. If there was something before that, it must have been “closet-speak”.

  20. Peeka says:

    I didn’t know you were a Highsmith fan! She’s always been one of my favorites. When I played Inez in NO EXIT a few years ago I used her as an inspiration for the character.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Why does the man in the background look like a zombie? I checked out the original cover online, and though he looks slightly less like a zombie on the original, and has a longer and more substantial shadow and a more menacing tilt to his head, he still looks zombie-esque. Interesting.

  22. Kate L says:

    Anonymous (#21) The man is the other, the intruder, in this relationship. Hey, I just wrote my first art review!

  23. shadocat says:

    All this book talk has got me thinking…what are the rest of y’all reading this long, hot summer? I’ll go first—I’m re-reading Mary McCarthy’s “The Group.”

  24. Kate L says:

    I just came back from the LGBT kiss-in in front of the Chick-Fil-A in the Moo U student union food court. Hey, where were you guys? I was waiting for you!!! πŸ™‚ All I saw at Chick-Fil-A were a couple of old people buying sandwiches, and I didn’t want to kiss them at all!

  25. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    I’m reading Henry James The Aspern Papers, about a repressed woman who lives with her aged aunt in Venice. The editor of a deceased poet who had something to do with the invalid aunt is seeking the letters the poet may have written her. Who is exploiting whom is an interesting thread in the novel.. I just finished Ian McDonald’s Stone Paper Wraps Scissors, a novel based on a late 20th century travelogue about a Buddhist pilgrimage. Very exciting. The pilgrim has deadly tattoos on his hands.

  26. Feminista says:

    Re: Mustang Sally. Wiki says that Wilson Pickett made that Mack Rice song popular in the mid-60s,when Sally Ride was in high school. So it had nothing to do with her space flight.

  27. Feminista says:

    P.S. I do recall a feminist children’s song ca.mid-80s which was about Sally Ride the astronaut.

  28. Fester Bestertester says:

    um… to ask an obvious question: Has anyone seriously suggested that the song “Mustang Sally” had anything to do with astronaut Sally Ride?

  29. Renee S. says:

    Wish we had a Chick Fil-A here, so 1) I could boycott it. 2) So I could randomly kiss some same sexed old person like myself…

    Love the “Price of Salt” drawing, AB.

    I have “Carol” on my bookshelf. A coincidence that someone just told me last week that the original title was “Price of Salt.” I love good coincidences.

    Miss you all. I’ve been quite busy.

  30. Andrew B says:

    In 1983, when Ride participated in her first space shuttle flight, the media often associated her with the tag line from “Mustang Sally”. I assume that’s what HoH was referring to in 4, and I was trying to pick up on her reference. Of course the song wasn’t about Ride. The media associated it with her back in the 80s, and given the lyrics of the song you might find that a little odd. I do.

    As long as I’m back, Acilius, in my 19 I shouldn’t have written “If there was something…”. What I meant to say was “Whatever you saw must have been closet-speak”.

  31. shadocat says:

    Therry, I’ve never read “The Aspen Papers” but it sounds so familiar–was their a movie or mini-series made based on it?

  32. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    shadocat, Dominick Argento wrote an OPERA about it and it was broadcast on PBS. You can see it on YouTube. We got to see two Argento one-act operas a couple of weeks ago — he’s a very satisfying opera composer.

    And on another note, I am sorry to say that St. Jerome is no more. His kidneys failed him, and today we took him to our vet and he passed away. He will live on in my DTWOF tag, but you should know he is among the kitteh angels. He sent a message from beyond to Doctor Winnicott.

  33. Kate L says:

    Sorry to hear about St. Jerome! πŸ™

    Sarah Milkovich, of NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter team, describes how the Mars-orbiting satellite caught a glimpse of the Mars rover Curiosity descending by parachute into Gale Crater early this morning…

  34. makky says:

    For those of you so inclined, there is a rather compelling story in this wk’s GLOBE about Marilyn Monroe seducing a 16 yr. old girl who was the head of her fan club. this girl was
    the adopted daughter of the head of the legal dept at RKO studios. MM was 29 yrs. old at the time. Pedophilia?

  35. Renee S. says:

    Therry- hugs and love.

  36. shadocat says:

    Therry—so sorry for your loss.St.Jerome seems like he was a very special kitty.

    going to check out that the opera on youtube—sounds great!

  37. Kate L says:

    This moring, my 54-pound harrier hound was just certain that she saw her pet black cat at the top of the cul-de-sac street behind our house. That cat hasn’t been with us since 2007. Oh, and did everyone see Jane Lynch’s comments about Chic-fil-A? OMG, Miss Sylvester curses! πŸ™‚

  38. Acilius says:

    @Andrew B #30: No worries.

    I think what I read must have been a news report about the Sally Ride Science Foundation that referred to Dr. O’Shaughnessy as Dr. Ride’s “good friend.”

    @Kate & Therry: Eerie doings in the kitty afterlife…

  39. hairball_of_hope says:


    I am sorry to hear of St. Jerome’s passing. Those of us who have lost members of our animal families understand well how it feels. May his memory (and furballs) be for a blessing. Even angels need cats underfoot to remind them who is really the boss.

    (… goes back to staring at her collection jar of whiskers shed by her late beloved feline …)

  40. Brazenfemme says:

    Therry – my thoughts with you on the loss of your kitty St. Jerome. I am a crazy old cat lady in training and adore my three boys -and have witnessed the passing of many other animals. Never easy. Can you post a lnk to a picture of him so Dr. W can see? (And Dr. Brazenfemme?)

  41. Cathy says:

    Therry, my deepest sympathy to you over the passing of St. Jerome. I can appreciate how sad you must be. When I do housecleaning, I cannot bring myself to wipe off the black smudge on the door jamb that marks where my late kitty Dana used to rub her face each morning when she woke me up to feed her. Peace to you.

  42. Oh Therry.

    I am so very sorry about St. Jerome. I am glad you will keep his name. Like Brazenfemme, I would love to see his picture. So would Dr. W. Here we are, sending our condolences.

    Photo on 8-8-12 at 9.24 PM #2

  43. Alex K says:

    The morning shuffle through the usual websites; and the Austrian newspaper that I check to see what’s going on across the border has a disquisition on Bechdel testing. Well, well. AB, you ol’ international eponym, you. http://kurier.at/kultur/4506969-bechdel-test-frauen-spielen-keine-rolle.php

    [Alex K: There seemed to be a typo in the link above which made it unusable. I think it’s be better now. –Mentor]

  44. Alex K says:

    Mentor, thank you! Sorry for the trouble.

  45. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Thank you all for your kind wishes about St. J. I will have to ask my husb. for a way to link to a picture of the old boy, and he’s away just at the moment. But a photo is definitely forthcoming!

  46. r2a says:

    chiming in heartfelt condolences, Therry. A feminist and her feline are never easily parted.

  47. Feminista says:

    Hey r2a,great to hear from you again! I have fond memories of our lunch with Therry in Boston.

    In other news,I’m still recovering from a car accident on 7/16 which resulted in very minor damage to the car but significant injury to me. Diagnosis: sprained cervical spine,trapezeous,and rotator cuff,all on the right side (of course,I’m right-handed). Fortunately,the insurance co.PIP (Personal Injury Protection)is covering the acupuncture,phys.therapy,and chiropractic bills. I’m told soft tissue damage can take a long time to heal,especially if you’re no longer a spring chicken.

    Had to cancel a kayak/hike trip to the Klamath Wildlife Refuge. Fortunately,I have another treat next week: 4 nights and 4 1/2 days at Seabeck Conference Center in Seabeck,WA; it’s on Hood Canal with a view of the magnificent Olympic Mts. The occasion is a reunion of folks (and their friends/family) who were in the Unitarian-Universalist youth group,LRY (Liberal Religious Youth)in the 60s,70s,and early 80s. There will be music and artwork as well as hiking,swimming,and no doubt Interesting Discussions.

  48. Kate L says:

    Oh, Feminista (#47)! I’m so sorry to hear about the car accident! πŸ™

  49. Kate L says:

    The United States has its first openly lesbian general, Brigadier General Tammy Smith, who (quoting from a posted news article)”was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in a private ceremony which took place today at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. BG Smith received her stars from her wife, Tracey Hepner.” Here is the link.

  50. Alex K says:

    Today’s NYTIMES magazine has a grand article on transgender children and their parents. Opening the newspaper (on-line) to see such things makes me feel that the world is getting better.

  51. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    R2A! I am horrified and dismayed to think of a bright and dangerous object such as yourself to be so seriously discombobulated! Please get well as soon as possible and get back out on the waterways.

    Alex K, those children weren’t described as transgender in that article. They were described as genderfluid, which is to say they hadn’t made up their minds which gender they wished to subscribe to, and many of them decided to be the gender they were born with. Here’s the article:
    click here!

    And Mentor, deft as I am at including a link, I can’t, nor can my beloved husb., figure out a way to post a link to a public picture on my computer. If you send an email address to my email, I will send you a jpeg of gallant picture of my late cat. Does anybody else have any ideas how to publish a private picture? And thanks!

    [Actually, I don’t believe there is a way to embed an image directly into the a comment.

    That said, for the picture above of herself and DrW AB uses the trick the putting the image on Flickr and then embedding that link in the article.

    If that’s enough of a hint, why don’t you try that. If that’s not –and if you have a Flickr account– if you post a comment that includes a link to the image on Flickr, I can massage the link into the appropriate form.

    (If you don’t have a Flickr account, it’s quite easy to get a free account that allows you to post some limited number of images.)

    Why don’t we try that. –Mentor]

  52. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    And Feminista, I’m even sorrier that I got your name wrong in that last post. Great Scott, woman , keep up the alternative therapies and recover!

  53. Andrew B says:

    Feminista, I’m glad your injury wasn’t any worse. It sounds like your insurance company wants to help alleviate suffering, not just treat objectively verifiable injury. That’s a good priority. Best Wishes.

    People who have lost cats (especially in the Granite State) condolences from me and Tabitha, the fierce and terrible, slayer of field mice, reaper of voles, scourge of chipmunks. The crazy tough little animals do claw their way into our hearts.

    You may enjoy this blog post with embedded video, about the cats that live at the Hermitage (museum), in St. Petersburg.

    Finally, from the department of odd coincidences, when I commented on the stain that Alison had included in her version of the Highsmith book cover, I thought it was just a clever thing she had done. A few days later I happened to come across an excerpt from this interview with the poet and classicist Anne Carson. She says:

    “In surfaces, perfection is less interesting. For instance, a page with a poem on it is less attractive than a page with a poem on it and some tea stains. Because the tea stains add a bit of history. It’s a historical attitude. After all, texts of ancient Greeks come to us in wreckage and I admire that, the combination of layers of time that you have when looking at a papyrus that was produced in the third century BC and then copied and then wrapped around a mummy for a couple hundred years and then discovered and put in a museum and pieced together by nine different gentlemen and put back in the museum and brought out again and photographed and put in a book. All those layers add up to more and more life.”

    It makes me wonder what is the history of that stain on the Highsmith book cover. The whole Carson interview is well worth reading. At the time, she was working on what became Nox, her book about her dead, estranged brother. The interview contains a lot of Bechdelian themes — Catholicism, memory, relics — albeit often from a non-Bechdelian point of view.

    I hope the James gang project is coming along well.

  54. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Mentor, thanks, will try that immediately and then we’ll see!

    And then I’ll try to scan in a picture of St. J as a tiny baby, one of my favorite pictures of all time.

  55. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    OK, Gang, let’s see how this goes.

    This is a picture of Jerome and me lounging in bed the morning of his demise.

    Hurray! Well, not so hurray, because he left us a few hours later, but I’m glad I get to show him to you. Will scan some more photos into Flickr soon and display happier scenes. But yessir, that’s my baby.

  56. Feminista says:

    Thanks,Therry. Today I went to yin yoga and did a lot of relaxing,watered the gardens,made gazpacho and corn muffins,updated my info list for the cat/house tenders when I’m away,organized the garbage,yard debris,and recycling for tomorrow’s curbside pickup,and am starting to get organized for the upcoming trip. My goal is to be able to swim by Thurs.at the lake at Seabeck Conf.Ctr.

  57. hairball_of_hope says:


    Hope you heal completely, and soon. The list of things you took care of made me tired just reading it. Organizing garbage, yard debris, and recycling? Garbage has to be organized? I feel so inadequate.


    Sweet, sweet photo of the saintly one. He posed so regally. Thanks for sharing. In case you want to simply link to the photo instead of all the extraneous Flickr stuff, try this URL:


    (… goes back to her disorganized piles of stuff …)

  58. Kate L says:

    (Therry #54) Thanks for the photo of Jerome! Btw, here is a more detailed news story on General Tammy Smith. Maybe someday she’ll be CO of nearby Fort Riley, originally founded when this part of the country was the western frontier. That might give the local homophobes pause! πŸ™‚

  59. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Hairball, how kind of you to link directly to the bright eyed photo of the late great! He looks much better without the extraneous stuff. However, the extraneous Flickr stuff also pointed to rather a nice picture of me, complete with horns. St. J has taken to showing up in the middle of the night and landing at the foot of the bed, much like the longer deceased Hengist, who used to clatter through the house for about six months after his demise. I do like ghost cats. If only Renita would show up — perhaps if I found an open copy of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason lying around I would know she had been there. SMART cat.

  60. Fester Bestertester says:

    Am I the only one who is concerned that Therry appears not to have a head in the photo she posted….?

  61. shadocat says:

    I know this is way off topic, but I just had to share my good news. My oldest daughter is marrying her partner in Hawaii on Thursday evening. Originally, it was just going to be the two of them, but different family members were jumping on board,making plans to attend. I was feeling pretty sad and blue about not being able to afford the trip, when the other night, my future daughter-in-law called to tell me she was paying my way out there! I leave on Wednesday, and I get to see my daughter get married! And in Hawaii! They are two wonderful, beautiful young women, and I am just so proud…

  62. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Congratulations, Shadocat! It sounds like your daughter is marrying a real ace. Enjoy your time in Hawaii and give the happy couple my best wishes for a long and happy life together.

  63. Kate L says:

    Hurray, shadocat! (#61)

  64. “Regal” is indeed the word for St. Jerome. That’s an amazing shot, Therry. What a cat. Hope you are bearing up okay.

  65. Feminista, I’m so sorry about your accident! Good luck healing up your soft tissue!

  66. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Andrew B., that video of the cat guards in the Hermitage was FABULOUS! St. J would have loved that gig. We are bearing up, but every so often I think of asking Wally to change the cat box or checking on the level of cat food. Fortunately if Romney ‘n Ryan get in, we can always eat it ourselves.