or, ‘You can(sometimes!) judge a book by its cover’
‘This Sweet Sickness’ by Patricia Highsmith. (Pan 1963) Cover by Laszlo Acs
I’ll be honest here: I haven’t actually read this book yet. I have read some Highsmith in the past and liked them, but this little beauty had to be bought simply for its cover, and the fact that it was dirt cheap in a charity shop!
And what a cover – a frightened man, hands up, in a spotlight and targeted by what could be a hypnotic spiral. He casts a long shadow which seems to become the outline of a dead body…or is it the shadow of an assailant: is the victim glancing over his shoulder as the hunter advances?
The cover brings to mind the poster for Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’ (1958) with its use of spiral and shadow to suggest a taught struggle between hunter and hunted. Of course, Hitchcock was no stranger to Highsmith, having directed a film version of her book, ‘Strangers on a Train’ in 1951.
The artist, Laszlo Acs was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1931 and studied art in Britain at the Hornsey College of Art. He illustrated many books and posters.
Finally, in tribute to Patricia Highsmith, here are Matmos with ‘Snails and Lasers for Patricia Highsmith’ from the GREAT album of tributes to queer icons, ‘The Rose has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast’