Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D
In 1948 her friend Truman Capote recommended Highsmith for the Saratoga Springs writers' colony, Yaddo, where she wrote the first draft of her novel Strangers on a Train—later made into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock. Still, she remained better known in Europe, where she lived first in England, then France, and eventually Switzerland, after French authorities raided her house while investigating her for tax fraud in 1980. There, she continued to write novels and engage in gnarly love affairs, often several at a time; at one point she kept a chart comparing her partners' sexual habits and prowess. But it was Highsmith herself whom Highsmith knew best. "To all the devils, lusts, passions, greeds, envies, loves, hates, strange desires, enemies ghostly and real, the army of memories with which I do battle," she said in a toast to herself. "May they never give me peace." As Schenkar makes abundantly clear, Highsmith, who lived to be 74 years old, would have taken characteristically perverse pleasure in the fact that they never did.