Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995) was an American writer whose works have often been adapted for film, most notably by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951’s Strangers on a Train and her Tom Ripley novels, such as The Talented Mr. Ripley (made into a French-language film Plein soleil in 1960 and a Hollywood movie in 1999 with Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow). She also wrote a number of short stories, including The Snails, here reviewed in a new edition by Foolscap Press.
Highsmith did not have a happy upbringing, which may have greatly impacted her personality. She developed a less than stellar reputation later in life as a mean, unfriendly person. She seemed to loathe humans. She was anti-semitic, racist and quite anti-American. Various acquaintances considered her cruel. She preferred the company of animals than that of humans, especially cats and — of all things — snails. She bred about three hundred snails in her home garden, and was known to bring snails in her handbag when traveling or even going to dinner. She liked that snails were sexually ambiguous, probably as she felt the same about herself. This fascination with snails, and her dislike of humanity, makes it understandable how she came up with a short story about giant, man eating snails!
The Snails was part of her 1970 short story collection called Eleven, also known as The Snail-Watcher and Other Stories. The story had first been published in the Saturday Evening Post as The Quest for Blank Claveringi. The Snails tells the story of a professor (named Avery Clavering, who desperately wants to discover something which he could give his name) obsessed with finding giant snails that are rumored to exist on an uninhabited island named Kuma. The professor discovers them, only to also realize that these giant snails are persistent predators that will be his doom. It is an interesting story, and is quite remarkable to me on how much suspense and believability is developed in such a short and strange story.
This new edition of The Snails from Foolscap Press continues their string of fantastic and collectible publications. Where Foolscap goes beyond most private presses of today is their focus on overall design, particularly in integrating the binding into the overall package. The unique solander box for The Snails, which includes a snail shell on the box made of dyed cast paper pulp, and the binding of the book itself, which folds out accordion-style into a half circle illustrated to represent the island the snails inhabit, are ingenious and thoughtful in integrating the setting into the format itself. Looking back over their recent editions of The Story of the Fisherman and Dialogue of the Dogs, to choose just two from their oeuvre, it is clear that proprietors Peggy Gotthold and Lawrence G. Van Velzer bring an unique and wonderful artistic perspective into their designs.
The art is printed from polymer plates from designs by Peggy Gotthold. The type is Koch Antiqua, made into polymer plates for letterpress printing. The text paper is German Ingres and the illustrations are printed on Lettra. The binding cloth is Japanese bookcloth, both to cover the box and for the book covers. There is an afterward by Lawrence G. Van Velzer. The edition is limited to 100 copies. It is highly recommended! Please contact Foolscap Press here with questions or interest.
About the Edition
- Designed, printed and bound by Peggy Gotthold and Lawrence G. Van Velzer
- Afterward by Lawrence G. Van Velzer
- The art is printed from polymer plates from designs by Peggy Gotthold
- The type is Koch Antiqua, made into polymer plates for letterpress printing
- The text paper is German Ingres and the illustrations are printed on Lettra
- The binding cloth is Japanese bookcloth, both to cover the box and for the book covers; The paper lining is German Ingres; The snail shell on the box is made of dyed cast paper pulp
- Limited to 100 copies
Pictures of the Edition
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