Tales of Natural and Unnatural Catastrophes

Patricia Highsmith, Author
Patricia Highsmith, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $16.95 (189p) ISBN 978-0-87113-251-2
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
Master storyteller Highsmith ( Mermaids on the Golf Course ) offers an eerily up-to-date collection of modern horror tales. On the cutting edge of technology are ``Operation Balsam; Or Touch Me Not,'' about the government's problems in disposing of nuclear waste and an ingenious bureaucrat's solution, and ``Rent-a-Womb vs. the Mighty Right,'' where surrogate mothers unionize and take on the religious fundamentalists. ``President Buck Jones Rallies and Waves the Flag'' culminates with the end of the world, while ``Trouble at Jade Towers'' embodies one of the city dweller's worst nightmaresenormous, unkillable roaches. Most of the stories take current trends to their logical and horrific conclusions, as in ``Sweet Freedom! And a Picnic on the White House Lawn,'' which concerns the wholesale release of ``harmless'' patients from mental institutions. Highsmith looks at our civilization with a remorseless eye. Almost anyone trying to change things for the better is destroyed, even the Pope in ``Sixtus VI, Pope of the Red Slipper,'' who is martyred trying to bring justice to the poor. ( Feb.)
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