Private: “Writing is only living pared away somewhat”

A review of Beautiful Shadow says that the comprehensive new biography of Patricia Highsmith is not so much an account of a life as an archive. It sounds like entertaining reading, though.

Among other things, biographer Andrew Wilson reveals that Highsmith’s mother tried to terminate her pregnancy by drinking turpentine, that the author kept pet snails and carried them in her purse to at least one cocktail party, that she set her hair on fire at a different party, and that she was a drinker.