8.20.2007

Brief Book Review: The Talented Mr. Ripley



Normally, I would make a picture like this smaller, but I needed the blurb of text at the bottom to be readable, as I am using it as a starting point for my (quasi) review. I'm refraining from a brief plot overview because it's now also a movie, and anyone can easily find out the plot. Suffice it to say that Tom Ripley is a murderous sociopath. What is most interesting about this novel for me is the character of Ripley, who The Daily Telegraph describes as amoral, hedonistic, and charming. As the narration (3rd limited) follows him, the reader receives everything he or she needs to know without being told explicitly. Show rather than tell, you see.

What is more, the reveal of the true nature of Tom, mentally disturbed, unfeeling, completely self-centered, is rather subtle in places. For instance, Highsmith (the author) establishes in various places the depth of hatred Tom has for others around him (and perhaps more importantly, the lack of love for any person). And certainly, his admiration of, love for, and obsession with material possessions is evident on each page. Indeed, at one point Tom even explicitly considers his love for possessions. What is refreshing is the author's restraint in connecting the dots; rather, she trusts the reader to put 2 and 2 together.

All in all, The Talented Mr. Ripley is a fascinating, albeit imperfect, account of the depravity of a disturbed yet talented individual. He is charming but cannot abide the company of others for long for fear of being found out. He fantasizes about murder. He may very well be a clinically determined "serial killer," though I'm inclined to doubt that characterization (he usually gains from the murders, so there is always a direct motive for the killings beyond simply the urge to kill). Though it's obviously not for everyone, if this review has interested you, I would recommend giving it a whirl. I found it to be a quick, easy read, and I enjoyed the novel.

*As this stands to become a recurring format on my blog, I would like to state for the record that none of these reviews will be professional. I will not discuss ad nauseum the strengths and weaknesses of each book I read. In fact, I will only promise 3 things: I will not reveal the ending unless the novel in question is over 100 years old; I will discuss whatever interested me about the book, even if that means that I discuss how uninteresting it was; I will say whether I liked it or not.

1 comment:

Sherry said...

I've never read this book and yet, based upon your review, I feel a strange yet powerful connection to this intriguing Mr. Ripley. Hmmm, wonder why? Anyway, I look forward to your upcoming reviews. I certainly hope the next one is of The Life of Pi.