review | The Wicked Pact, by Patricia Highsmith

(Art: Jeff Grandfield)

The name Patricia Highsmith has stuck with me for decades. Of course, this should happen to many movie buffs in connection with different literary authors, but in my case the Texas name he adopted as column name His second name, first Mary, along with his stepfather’s surname, artist Stanley Highsmith, was, in the category of “Contemporary Authors,” what has always stuck in my mind, even more so than others like Philip K. dick, and reappearing from time to time and arousing my curiosity which I have only been able to satisfy very recently, by reading evil covenanthis first novel, published in 1950 and twice adapted for audiovisual cinema, the first time in 1951 was none other than Alfred Hitchcock.

I don’t know if it took me too long to start reading his work or because I saw his name in movies that I really like, like the Hitchcock feature mentioned above, Carolby Todd Haynes and “My Last Straw” to embark on this journey, though I don’t like it very much, deep waterI was expecting a lot, but a lot of evil covenant, although he is well aware that it is rare for a literary author to begin his career with something exceptional. After reading it – the kind that wouldn’t let me close the book for more than 24 hours straight and that’s because I made an effort to back off – I can say with great calm that my expectations were not only met, but abruptly shattered by a horrific and frightening novel. Beautifully written, it delves into the human psyche with a pessimistic look that makes poetry never stop.

While Highsmith is probably best known for creating the character of Tom Ripley, who has appeared in no fewer than five of her novels, her opening work deserves close attention. In it, two men—the Charles Anthony Bruno boy and the architect on their way to building his career Guy Hines—meet on a train and a sinister conversation begins, led by Bruno who even suggests a “kill exchange” with Haines: Bruno will kill his wife, Miriam, whom Haines wants to divorce, and Hines In return, he will kill his father, Bruno, whom he hates. In Bruno’s psychotic mind, where there is no motive for one to kill the other’s “target”, they would be perfect crimes. The whole thing ends with Haines ironically rejecting the idea, but which Bruno interprets, of course, as approval, which leads him to kill Miriam with his own hands and then insistently demand the same from Haines.

For anyone who’s seen the Hitchcock movie and therefore thinks they know what’s going on, do yourself a favor and read the book to be just as surprised as you are. Hitchcock, despite his brilliance and even an excellent adaptation, does not reach the astonishingly satisfactory level that Highsmith achieves in her reasonably short work, as she makes use of limited third-person narration, and alternates between them at exactly the same time. Different and well-liked characters in a web of horrific fallout are thrown in and set in motion while developing a deceptively simple narrative in execution.

Highsmith’s focus is on evaluating human life for all of us. What does it mean that supposedly normal people when pressed or pushed into a corner can’t escape? While Bruno is easily identifiable as a villain, despite having many nuances in his behavior, including a conservative homosexual subtext, Haines, theoretically the “good guy” and thus closer to us readers, begins to see his psychological defenses falls apart. Because his fellow train makes his presence more and more palpable. For Bruno, everything equates to a challenge, obstacles he feels safe enough – in his extreme arrogance – to overcome. For Haines, everything is torture, but the torture that begins to be enjoyed unconsciously.

Highsmith’s great narrative origins lie in Haines’ construction and subsequent deconstruction. Many readers may think the character is so implausible that he can easily avoid what happens to him by taking this or that action before closing Bruno’s siege, but the author is not entirely interested in jeopardizing Cartesian logic. in front of everything. His novel is, first of all, a psychological thriller, with an emphasis on the psychological aspect. Haines is undoubtedly a victim. At first, at least… As the plot progresses, Haines changes and basic concepts begin to become relative and situations that some might see as “stupid” are explained by the character – or can be interpreted – with what we can glimpse from his subconscious mind that, something Little by little, it moves toward Bruno’s disruptive and unhealthy direction, creating an affinity that the reader does not want, struggles against, but cannot avoid, and ultimately, to our horror, we understand that Haines is there to represent us. , something that is somehow summed up in his important and special meeting with Habib Myriam at the end.

Patricia HighsmithTherefore, he begins his illustrious career with no less a masterpiece, a disturbing, disgusting and disgusting novel that stays in the reader’s mind like a haunting novel, making us realize that perhaps there is a side in all of us simply that we refuse to accept and that we struggle to remain forgotten, but always ready to control on our minds. evil covenant It’s a terrible, frightening triumph for psychological thrillers that whisper terrible thoughts in our ears like Bruno does with Haines.

Evil Charter (Strangers on a Train – USA, 1950)
author: Patricia Highsmith
original publisher: Harper and Brothers
Original posting date: March 15 1950
Publisher in Brazil: Publisher Ediouro
Posted in Brazil: April 24, 2006
Translation: Tito de Lemos
Pages: 304

Leave a Comment