As booksellers, we often overhear customers lamenting that they've always meant to read “that other Jane Austen novel,” or Graham Greene, or Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but just never found the time. We've tried to remedy that with our Classics I Forgot to Read Book Club by providing motivation and a welcoming space to share your thoughts.

In choosing our ‘classics’ over the past few years, we've tried to select titles that had some visibility among readers, but were not necessarily included in the standard high school English class. We've also sampled a range of genres, from mystery (The Long Goodbye) to comedy (Cold Comfort Farm) to stream-of-consciousness (To the Lighthouse). So, whether our picks are already gathering dust on your bookshelves or this is your first encounter with the literary canon, we encourage you to join us on the last Wednesday evening of every month for conversation about the classics.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

May 2008-- Strangers on a Train

by Patricia Highsmith

While Patricia Highsmith has never been as revered in the States as she has in Europe for her meticulously crafted thrillers, her breakthrough novel, Strangers on a Train, enjoyed mainstream popularity when Alfred Hitchcock adapted it in 1951. The film, however, never plumbed the depths of the novel's deeply unsettling pathology or its homoeroticism. The plot is simple enough: Guy Haines, a young architect on his way up the ladder of success, is travelling back to his shrewish wife to beg for a divorce so he can marry the golden girl of his dreams. Charles Bruno is a crass, warped rich kid who loathes his father and unfortunately latches on to Guy during their train trip. In a drunken stupor, Bruno reveals his ingenious idea to exchange murders; Bruno will kill Guy's wife and Guy will murder Bruno's father. Without a discernible motive, the police would never be able to tie them to each other's crimes. Guy makes the mistake of writing off Bruno as a nut only to realize how serious he is when his wife turns up strangled. The novel grows more sinister as Guy is drawn inevitably into murder, both attracted and repelled by the evil that has seeped into his orderly life. Highsmith's portrait of a psychotic partnership that descends into chaos gets under your skin and stays there.

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