Monday, July 25, 2011


Hello World,

This posting is a  heartfelt  thank you (Mahalo!)  to the readers who have  so generously purchased  my latest ebook,   CANNIBAL NIGHTS, Pacific Stories Volume II,  a  sequel to my  first collection,  HOUSE OF SKIN PRIZE-WINNING STORIES.  Since so  many of you are  curious about the genesis of these  stories,  I  hope  to give you a little insight into how I researched and wrote them.

CANNIBAL NIGHTS is a darker collection than HOUSE OF SKIN.  The stories range from Navy SEALS  (and the women who love them)  and Al Qaeda terrorists,  to a father's  adultery,  to slave-ships roaming  the Pacific in the 18th and 19th centuries, kidnapping and enslaving hundreds of  thousands of natives. A story set in the Marquesas Islands deals with Paul Gauguin in his last days, riddled with syphilis and morphine addiction.  In other stories,  a  modern-day Tahitian girl searches for her biological father,  a French Foreign Legionnaire.  An Australian Aborigine  exacts payback from  white men who gang-raped her.  And a brother and sister struggle to find normalcy and even happiness, while burdened with life-long affects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

Do I create these tales  from scratch?  No.  But I build,  I construct one story out of maybe three or five that I have heard,  or  personally experienced.  My cousins in Honolulu know several retired Navy SEALS.  Sometimes we sit and listen,  stunned,  to  the stories they tell  of their  combat experiences.  I knew the parents of several college students  killed  in the Al Qaeda  nightclub bombings in Bali in 2003.  I  tried to merge  all these  stories until 'ASSASSIN ORDERS PEKING DUCK' evolved,  a tale that is  tragic but somehow ends hopefully.  The narrator is  a young woman forever searching for her father who abandoned her.  Readers have pointed out to me  that this is a theme that runs through  earlier stories.  Even my novels.  I was not aware of it  during the writing.  But in fact,  I never knew my father  well.  After my Hawaiian mother died at a young age,  my father  left our islands. Growing up, I saw him only intermittently.  Perhaps it is what we most long for that circumscribes our lives,  and  ultimately  becomes the  running subtext of our work.

For three months  I lived in Tonga,  setting of 'GEORGE BUSH AND PAPA AT THE PARADISE.'  During that time one of the maids at the  Paradise hotel  discovered her father was having an affair with a tourist.  It broke her heart  and she spent months thinking of how she could make her father pay. (There really was a life-size portrait of George Bush in the lobby!)  I left Tonga before the story resolved itself,  so I orchestrated an ending. Tongans are such a warm and beautiful people, so  deeply dedicated to their children,  that I wanted to ennoble both the wife,  and husband. I wanted them to have  a happy ending.  And I wanted the young girl to mature and learn to forgive,  and  come to understand the imperishability of  love.  That it can be tested and survive.

'MYSTERIES OF RAPA NUI' is based on the tragic history of Easter Island.  The ecological devastation  and the unspeakable  tragedy  of how their male population was nearly wiped out by slave-ships roaming the Pacific.  I have visited Easter Island and  heard stories of  huge sacrifices the women made, attempting to hide their men from the  notorious Blackbirder  slave ships.  This 18th and 19th century practise of kidnapping and slave-trading was rampant in the Pacific, coinciding with the  slave-trade flourishing  in the Atlantic,  yet so little has been written about it.

'CANNIBAL NIGHTS, COLONIAL AFTERNOONS' is based on the last year of Gauguin's life in the  Marquesas Islands  after he had been deported out of Tahiti,  a French colony,  as a drug-addled rake and libertine.  In that period he was in a morphine-induced stupor,  yet he managed to paint some of the most magnificent  portraits of his life.  There has always been the question of who helped him  complete the last canvases as he began to fail and death approached.  I took 'authorial license' in portraying these last days and who might have  helped him and even,  in some instances,  repainted his portraits completely.  More importantly, I wanted to portray how in the colonialist period of that time - when the Church over-ran the islands and taxed the natives to near-starvation - a young clergyman befriends Gauguin,  sees  through his eyes the bigotry of the Church,  and learns how Art, true Art, goes deeper than religion.  

We come to 'THE FRENCH FOREIGN LEGIONNAIRE'S BATARD,'  and  again, it is a story comprised of several stories.  During my many trips  to Tahiti (culturally,  they are very close cousins to Hawaiians)  I met several 'fatherless'  women  born to  mothers  who had had affairs with French Foreign Legionnaire's  during their  military duty in Tahiti.  Several women  had actually lived in France and spent years trying to locate their Legionnaire fathers.  I began to wonder what would happen if one of them found her father.  How the  drama would unfold.  My biggest challenge  was the ending of the story.  I struggled to make the characters sympathetic,  but was the ending  plausible?  Only, you, the reader can tell me.  I am anxious to know from  your  responses if this story works.  I hope so!  For, during the writing, I fell in love with both characters.  They are  each damaged, and lonely,  and searching.

' FLASHNESS,' set in Australia,  is based on a story I heard while traveling there a few years back.  It happened  after  the  Columbine High School tragedy in the U.S.  I knew the background of how Aborigines were massacred when England  deposited boatloads of  its convicts on their shores,  and so the story automatically fell into place in my mind.   It is a dark, harsh tale of payback,  but I hope readers will also remember the suffering and wholesale slaughter  of Australia's Aborigines by white convict-settlers,  that continued for two hundred years

The last story, 'CELL FATIGUE, '  was very difficult to write.  Like Native Americans,  and many other under-represented  minorities,  Native Hawaiians have an  extremely  high percentage of alcoholism,  and  thus, their children suffer from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  I have seen people struggling all their lives with this condition.  The story was initially so dark and potentially hopeless,  I  revised it  least 20-30 times.  It began to depress  and defeat me,  and I put it aside for weeks.  Then one day,  epiphany! I began to see it as a love story between a  brother and sister trying to save each other's life. Then it became  instantly deeper,  more meaningful to me.  The characters  slowly transcending from victims to survivors.  I now saw  them as heroes, and  when I finally wrote the  last page,  I was overtaken with emotion.  (Only when I completed this  story did I realize it was also a kind of memorial to my dear brother, Braxton Rowan,  a soldier and  hero,  who died too young. )

Looking over the entire body of CANNIBAL NIGHTS,  I see that  what I  have written is  a collection of love stories.  Though dark,  and often violent,  they are tales of people  searching for the  love of a father,  or brother,  or the love of women sacrificing their lives for their husbands.  There is the love of a clergyman for an artist,  and the love  of that  artist for his Art.  The love of an Aborigine  for her tribe, and for  her  ancestor,  cold-bloodedly murdered.  Finally, the deep love of a brother and sister, trying to survive.  

I hope these  stories  will speak to anyone who has  suffered the confusion of being a mixed-blood,  or to  anyone,  male or female,  who has served in the military and suffered Post-Traumatic Stress.  I hope they will speak to anyone who has ever lost a child,  or betrayed  or abandoned a child,  or,  conversely,  anyone who has ever searched for  a parent who abandoned them.  Lastly,  I hope they will remind you  that our fate is not determined,  that we each have choices.  And that, after all,  especially in these cataclysmic times,  love is still the basic need that drives us,  that renders us still-noble,  still-supremely human.

Again,  thank you, mahalo,  for  your support.  I  sincerely hope you enjoyed CANNIBAL NIGHTS, and  I look forward to your questions and comments.

With aloha,   Kiana


Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Hello, World.

Remember that ad for Ultra-Slim cigarettes, targetted at women?  "YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY, BABE!"  Even then the tobacco industry knew cigarettes were killing us.  But, hey.   It was a multi, multi-billion $dollar business.  And it was run by men.  (Of course,  cigarettes were killing men, too.)

Well,  recently I came across a similar ad in an old Glamour magazine from the 1980s.   Half of the photo  showed a turn-of-century chrone with six kids hanging on her apron.  The other half showed a  girl driving  a Porsche convertible,  hair flying in the wind.  Caption?  "CELEBRATE YOUR FREEDOM!"  It was an ad for Birth Control pills.  Those little miracles that  wiped out centuries of female oppression,  allowed  women  sexual freedom, and a way to finally chart their own reproductive kismet.  The Pill,  which celebrated its 50th birthday in October,   created  the most  radical  change in human history. It was of course manufactured by  colossal,  multi-billion $dollar  drug companies,  an industry run by men.

Enter a new era,  "The  Age of Infertility." An age  of bestselling books entitled EVERYTHING CONCEIVABLE.  TAKING CHARGE OF YOUR FERTILITY. A world of  Fertility Centers, ovulation kits, infertility shots,  and  bioethecists telling women they should have planned ahead.  A new kind of  medical and bureaucratic Hell of doctor's waiting rooms and  insurance companies that are  lasar leaps  away  from the Liberation we thought we had achieve with the Pill.

  Hello?  Did I miss a segue?  Yes,  I'm afraid  millions of women did.  Now younger women in their 30s who've been on the Pill for 10 or 15 years,  refer to the  pills  as 'Death Pods.'   Because those 10 or 15 years were their  prime child-bearing years.  Now that they want to have children  their bodies are in REPRODUCTIVE BACKLASH.  Inadvertently,  infertility has become the Pill's primary side effect.

Why does this suprise us?  Because in our eagerness to be stand-alone human beings,  empowered with our reproductive rights,  women forgot basic biology:  fertility is an offering of Youth.  The body we woke up with after 10 or 20 years on the Pill is,  putting it mildly, not the one we started out with.  Body rhythms change, so do organs,  and cells. Our stockpile of eggs becomes depleted,  what's left is not exactly prime quality.

(Let me say that I  was one of the lucky ones.  The Catholic Church forbade the Pill,  so I got pregnant instead. Only after my child was born, and I rebelled and left  the Church,  did I go on the Pill.   So in some wacky, Byzantine way, the Church  may have saved me from being childless.)

Now,  granted,  the Pill did not directly create the field of infertility medicine,  but it has turned it into a gigantic  multi multi-billion $dollar  industry.  Run by men. (Sound familiar?)  Childless couples and single women are now  depleting their savings accounts investing in  in-vitro fertilization,  or test-tube babies,  which has been the  last word in infertility treatment since  the late 70s.  But only now has the attempt at  IVF become almost epidemic,  a last ditch-try at  biological parenthood.   Success  rates are  dismally low if you're over forty.  Mid-forties only a 12% success rate.  Over forty-five the odds,  less than 2%.

And with IVF we have the risk of birth defects especially with women over forty. Worse,  insurance companies will not cover  costs, which  range from $12,000-15,000 per cycle. When IVF fails, there is grief and mourning,  and women berating themselves for their lack of foresight. And only now,  after the fact, are doctors telling women, "Oh! You should have frozen your eggs in your twenties."  In fact, young women in their teens and twenties ARE now freezing their eggs for future fertilization.  But for the  infertile over-30s and 40s and evern 50s  that information comes too late.

 (Yes, there is always adoption,  which I wholeheartedly endorse.  But we are talking about the Pill and infertility  here.)  What I want is someone to tell me that the geniuses behind the research and develop-ment and  marketing of the  Pill,  DID NOT KNOW, or anticipate,  a future of infertile women.  I want someone to tell me that women were not used as guinea pigs.  And that even now,  they are once again being used as guinea pigs  in this latest  tango with infertility shots, and infertility pills,  and the whole new cornucopia of medicalized technology promising to produce viable fetuses,  but not guaranteeing  children born without defects.

I want someone to tell me, fifty years after the advent of the Pill,  why even  Margaret Sanger's grandson publicly demands to know "WHERE IS THE BIRTH CONTROL PILL FOR MEN?" It would be so easy.  But,  again,  the drug companies,  those Goliaths profitting so magnficiently  from women,  ARE RUN BY MEN.  When confronted by legions of women  demanding  the Male Pill,  drug company spokesmen turn  coquettish and shy.  The cost of clinical trials ' would be  astoundingly high.'  'The impact of upending cultural norms would be global, and would reverberate for generations.'  They have not yet found a male pill with 'zero side effects.'  After fifty years?   Oh, ladies, lets  face it.  The real rock-bottom  truth is the  same as it was in the Bible.  Men don't want their reproductive organs fooled around with.

Yes, the Pill saved our lives.  I embraced it.  I embrace it now.  Yes, it brought women's rights  out of the Dark Ages.  The right to  serial sex partners, equal pay,  the right to run for President of the United States.  But, look. Our bodies are still under the control of the Goliaths -  the drug companies.   Who, by the way,  long ago perfected the Male Birth Control Pill.   They just won't release it.  Think of the billions and billions  of $dollars LOST  if, finally, the Goliaths  allow women to have drug-free bodies.  If, finally,  they give us back the right to our reproductive selves. The Pill took a certain biological control away from us, and that control was  Empowerment.

 Release the Pill for men.  Freeze their  young,  unadulterated sperm,  and then let them deal with potential sterility for a few decades.  IT'S THEIR TURN.

Last month we watched a movie about a  Pill-taking career-wife who has been rendered infertile.  Her husband divorces her for a younger woman who can give him children. She drives herself off a cliff.  A few nights ago we watched an old Turner Classic from the 50s,  THE BEST OF EVERYTHING.  An unmarried woman becomes pregnant and, out of shame,  suicides with sleeping pills.  Oddly,  the theme song of both movies was  something sentimental called,  "Its a Woman's World..."  

Oh, really?

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Hello World.

Today I need to address an important question that writing-students keep asking me.  They have completed their manuscripts after dozens of revisions and my modest input.  But now they are  reluctant to approach agents,  hesitant to move forward and submit their books  to print publishers.  Why?  Because  the world of print-publishing is foundering.  many publishing houses have folded.  Bookstores are closing left and right.  Why should  writers  bother with submissions?

Now world-class writers like J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter)  are  going independent,  self-publishing their books electronically.  Rowling  recently made  global headlines with this news.  She will not have to share royalties with a publisher on her ebooks.  She is her own corporation now.  She  might be a billionaire,  if not she's close.  But her basic motivation in launching into ebooks is  not necessarily  MORE ACQUIRED WEALTH.   "I want to reach  young readers who have never read a book in print,  who were born in the digital age.  All they know are  ereaders,  so that is how my Harry Potter books will reach them."  Simple,  logical.  She's planning ahead for the  looming  generation.

Then there are brilliant,  literary writers like John Edgar Wideman whose books I love,  his novels are  set primarily  in Philadelphia  and  deal with the tragedies,  high drama,  sacrifice and stateliness of  working-class African-American families.  Wideman recently became a 'cross-over' author,  still writing his brilliant novels for print publishers,  but also uploading his first collection of short stories as an independent ebook.  He will undoubtedly  produce more ebooks.

In an interview with Publishers Weekly,  Wideman talked about the frustration of waiting a year, even two years,  for his books to be published by established print publishers.  He talked about the sense of empowerment of choosing one's own cover,  one's own font,  of the thrill of having one's work published and offered to reader's within a month of completing the work.   I, too,  am now a cross-over author,  or as some of my colleagues say,  'a defector.'   With three novels print-published, I am now also an indie ebook author of a short-story collection (HOUSE OF SKIN, PRIZEWINNING STORIES)  and another on the way.

I  do have another print novel coming out next year,  THE CHINESE SOLDIER'S DAUGHTER,  but after that,  who knows?  I may be dropped by the publisher as a  'defecting author,' another 'rat deserting the ship.'   Unlike Rowling and Wideman,  my motivation to turn to indie ebooks was pure economics.  I am trying to save my own life.  Books are my only source of income,  prices of my novels are set too high by the publishers.  With  the recession,  sales  of those books  have dropped considerably.   My ebook is currently outselling all of them.  

But  when writing-students ask if they should cut to the chase,  forego the rounds of expected rejections in the print world,  and go straight to the independent-ebook route...MY ANSWER IS NO.  Writers like Wideman and, to a more modest degree, myself,  already have a  reader-following from  our print novels.  In other words,  a 'fan base.'  Its a snap of the fingers to upload your book onto Kindle, Nook,  and  other ebook platforms.   But it is a tedious, energy-sapping,  confidence-draining task to go online  for hours everyday to promote your ebooks,  to attract readers,  to beg them to buy copies.  

Not all ebook writers are successful,  some  sales are dismally low.  These  authors  have not edited sufficiently,  their writing is sophomoric at best.  Many of their facts and locations are wrong,  lack of research,  their book-covers are amateur and dismal.  Or,  more often,  they simply don't yet have a reader-following.   This is where  established  print publishers have the advantage.  In the best of all worlds,   they buy your book,  they edit the manuscript  professionally,  they check your facts,  and discuss  cover-concepts with art departments. They decide how to market you. They make you an author,  a bona fide  pro!

BUT...Here is the downside:  They take a huge percentage of  the profits from  your book sales.  For every  $15 trade paperback sold, the author earns only 8 or 10 percent.  On your ebooks,  print publishers will try to  take more than 75% of each book.  Think of that.  Plus, fewer and fewer books are being bought by print-publishers. They want big names,  guaranteed bestsellers. They don't have time to take risks on first-time authors because the print-world foundering,  figures from  FORTUNE AND FORBES  suggest it is dying.  We are definitely in an evolution,  and  ultimately  the digital world will prevail.  Ebooks are already far outselling printed books. The world of books will never die.   Intelli-gent humans  must always and forever feed our imaginations!  But the book-world as we knew it 10 even 5 years ago is evolving into something new.  We  have yet to know what that  'new' will ultimately be.

Back to my writing-students.  Should they  (And maybe you,  a first-time author?) forego the usual print-route,  and proceed directly to electronically publishing your book yourself?  Again  I SAY NO... that is...NOT YET.  It has always been my belief that in this brief flicker of time we are each allotted...we should  dare everything.   At least once.  If you jump into self-publishing your books,  you will never know the thrill of submitting your work to print publishers.  Of maybe having conversations with editors,   of hearing suggestions from them.  Of knowing that euphoric sense of feeling drunk with Hope. Nor will you experience the massive deflation of  a rejection letter,  and the grief and despondency of a 12th and 20th rejection letter.  Or the final heart-stabbing realization that no one  wants to  publish your book.

Conversely,  if you go directly to self-publishing you will never know if your book MIGHT HAVE BEEN BOUGHT and published.  Might have gotten good  reviews.  Might have  sold a decent amount and even  earned you  a  second book-contract! You will simply never know.  In advising you this way,  I'm going  diametrically against the sage advice of the Grand Guru of bloggers, Joe Konrath,  whose blogsite THE NEWBIES GUIDE TO PUBLISHING,  was voted one of the best 100 blogsites in the country by NEWSWEEK.   (I urge you all to read all of  his blogsite from beginning to took me several days to complete it. I don't agree with all of his theories, but the man's  instructions on self-publishing  saved my life.)

Now,   Konrath believes print publishing is in a MAJOR DEATH SPIRAL,   that no sane writer should think of approaching print publishers today,  that we all should be self-publishing and uploading our books  for ereaders and keeping, not sharing,  our profits from book sales.  He's 95% right.  But I keep thinking of my  writing-students, the hope and joy and probable grief that they will miss out on by not giving print publishing a try.  We're writers,  we've  should experience all  emotions,  hope,  fear, dejection, rejection,  all-out  grief.  We should take chances.  If you choose to go directly to self-publishing you may always wonder "should I have tried the other first...?"  "What if...what if...?'    You will have deprived yourself of the  gift of that experience.

So again  here is my  recommendation to  my writing-students and any first-time authors.  If you're undecided,  and still leaning toward print-publishing,  give yourself the opportunity to submit your work to print publishers.  But also...GIVE YOURSELF A TIME-LIMIT!!  Give it six months, a year.  If you have not sold your book by then,  I would definitely switch tracks and go to indie ebook publishing.  Digital is the new norm.  And the competition is growing.  Hundreds of thousands of out-of- print books  are now being revitalized through ebook publishing.  Estate/trust heirs  of famous dead authors will soon be rich.  

Okay.   So,  you don't have a reader-following yet.  Well, neither did  John Locke.  No one had ever heard of him.  He's  a mystery writer  who cleverly  prices each of his dozens of  ebooks at .99.  Locke   has just become the first indie  author to sell ONE MILLION books as ebooks.  He has been at it less than a year.  Joe Konrath,  the  myster/thriller writer will  sell about 500,000 ebooks  this year.  These are the uber-sellers.  Yes, they're the exception.  But there are dozens of first-and second-time ebook authors,  many women,  who are writing  genre books,  sci-fi, vampire, thrillers,  romance,  who are selling several thousand copies of their books  each month.  Each book ads to their fan-base.

And don't forget  Amanda Hocking,  a twenty-something  author who just reversed gears. After self-publishing for several years  (MY BLOOD APPROVES)  and gathering a huge following of readers,  she  recently sold her next  couple of books to St. Martins Press for  several million dollars.    You see where this cross-over thing is going.   Authors who couldn't  originally get print-published,  self-published their ebooks, and when those books become bestsellers,  the print-publishers come courting!   Its not an ethical pickle,  its that right now there are no hard and fast rules.   There is only which  decision you make.

The important thing is to...GET STARTED NOW.   Set up your time-limit if your going the print-route.
One year of your life won't kill you.  While your sending out queries to agents and/or publishers and waiting, waiting, waiting,  you will NOT  be wasting time.  You will be working on your next novel.  Or,  you will  be learning all about self-publishing ebooks,  knowing if you go that route,  whatever profits you earn will be yours.  All yours!

Thanks.  Anyone with suggestions or opinions on this subject,  please chime in!


 Another   thing I want to touch on   here  is:  AUTHOR BABBLE.   Too many beginning writers and established writers and in-betweens forget that once we begin writing for an audience,  which is what we all aspire to...we become public figures.  Whether you're a bestseller,  or your audience so far only extends to your immediate family,  you are inviting public scrutiny.

A twenty-five old in unitards and combat boots, raking in major bucks from  her bestselling  Zombie series,   a suburban mom  who pens bodice-rippers,  or a Nobel Laureate  all have this in common:  they are being scrutinized.  And in this  age of instant media-access, our voiced opinions and behavior  seriously affect how readers read  us.  Or,  if they will read  us at all.

 One night in a dreamy, highbrow mood,  I misperceived the exclusivity of  a limited audience on a late-night talk show.  The host and I were relaxed,  wandering from the 'meaning of literature'  to silly,  existential things - like how can authors make a living without  turning  commercial and selling out their souls?  Somehow we drifted into loneliness,  and how dogs make the best companions for writers.  A man was in the news that day  for having  beaten his dog,  then set it on fire.   I,  a dog-lover,  said  the man should be taken out and shot in the head.  I volunteered to do it.  Shoot him in the head.  That   late-night interview went viral.  Months later at a book festival,  a woman walked up to me and said, "Oh,  you're the writer who  wanted to shoot someone  in the head.  Joking or not, I found that offensive."  She did not buy a copy of my book.

 The scrutiny grows exponentially with every book your write. Every appearance you make.  A close friend  Anna,  appears at  dozens of  booksignings  every  year, and dozens of  writer's conferences.  She's obsessively driven to promote  her books and  refers to herself as a 'book-whore'  even in interviews.  Anna  has  published five novels,  one a bestseller.  In a review of  that bestselling  novel,  the reviewer  (of a major suburban newspaper ) referred to her as a self-described 'book-whore. ' That word still  follows her across the Web.

Writing is solitary,  sometimes excruciatingly boring. At times we yearn to be cutting-edge comics,  or  political hipsters,  or big-mouth do-gooders,   and we forget. We forget the perils of verbal  dilettantism,  or verbal abuse,  or publicly outting our biases and hatreds.  And it  comes back to haunt  us.  Readers are loyal,  or frivolous,  but they will  always react.  What I'm suggesting is,  however little,   or however much,  you think of yourself as an author,   there is now a part of you that should live up to those  readers' expectations.  

Writing is a lofty  endeavor,  even if its about  inter-galactic infanticidal maniacs.  People  assume, like idiot savants,  we're touched by the hand of god.  So. Divorce your spouse,  elect to have trans-gender surgery,  become a born-again  Mormon polygamist - whatever your particular quirk or deviation,  try to articulate/execute it with a touch of class,  that is,  with restraint,  and preferably in private.  No matter how successful a writer becomes,  we are  not exempt from the higher civilities  of  accepted human behavior.

 I know what you're thinking.   Writers are  supposed to be renegades,  anarchists,  blowing up  the  barriers of societal norms.  Telling the high-priests to f-ck off.  How to be that and still be palatable, and  inoffensive?  How to link our tiny selves to our giant narratives,  so that our  private  grievances and struggles seem universal?  Its difficult,  we're complex.  Complexity seems to be the  ultimate ingredient in art.  Complexity and  ambiguity, what Keats - that  poet of  cognitive dissonance - called 'negative capability.'

  Here is a prime example of what I'm trying to say:  Patricia Highsmith,  that  elusive mystery writer of the 1950s  was almost forgotten for several decades.  But with the endorsement of Graham Greene and other  such luminaries,  her novels were resurrected,  so  there has been a frenzy of posthumous adulation since the  late l980s.  Even movies have been remade of her novels,  STRANGERS ON A TRAIN,  more recently in the 1990s  THE TALENTED  MR. RIPLEY (Jude Law, Matt Damon).  Her  literary forte was  how  she wrote about cold-blooded  humans,  stylish murderers who got away with it.

 I  have found  her writing rather  bloodless, nevertheless fascinating.  Not a writer you could love,  but one you might respect.  But  recently as I was  finishing THE TALENTED  MR. RIPLEY,  I  discovered  that in  later life,  Highsmith  repeatedly and publicly proclaimed  herself rabidly  anti-black,  anti-semitic,  an outspoken hater of gays.  (This from a woman who came out as a lesbian in the 'silent 50s.')  Such blatant racist  hatred does not pop out of one's forehead overnight.  It had been seeding all those years of her writing.  After I read that  profile on her,  and similar others,  I flipped back through STRANGERS ON A TRAIN  and  THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY.  I  reread  sentences and  dialogue,  and saw more clearly the  repugnance  of the subtext. The  reverberating  lack of humanity in her characters.  The  lack of  regret or grief,  or heart.

Now I understand  that  Patricia  Highsmith will not endure as other than a dated,  genre writer.   She does not  address or explore  the depths of  our  human emotions.  She did not feel them.  As an author,  and a human being  she is/was  predictably repulsive.  She wrote about nineteen novels after the two above.  Two is enough.  She has lost me as a reader.  I think of  Highsmith now with great distaste.  A mediocre writer who went in and out of  vogue,  and  ultimately should have kept her mouth shut.

Thanks.  Comments?  Chime in.