Quotes by Joan Schenkar

"When Pat gave her ‘criminal-hero’ Tom Ripley a charmed and parentless life, a wealthy, socially poised Alter Ego (Dickie Greenleaf), and a guilt-free modus operandi (after he kills Dickie, Tom murders only when necessary), she was doing just what her fellow comic book artists were doing with their Superheroes: allowing her fictional character to finesse situations she herself could only approach in wish fulfillment. And when she reimagined her own psychological split in Ripley’s character — endowing him with both her weakest traits (paralyzing self-consciousness and hero-worship) and her wildest dreams (murder and money) — she was turning the material of the ‘comic book’ upside down and making it into something very like a ‘tragic book.’ 'It is always so easy for me to see the world upside down,’ Pat wrote in her diary– and everywhere else."

"She wasn’t nice. She was rarely polite. And no one who knew her well would have called her a generous woman."

"But in the first few hundred of the thousands of pages of plain prose and careful grammar that Patricia Highsmith plied in her thirty-eight journals and eighteen diaries, there are two words she continued to capitalize unnecessarily and more frequently than any others. “Martini” is one of those words and “Mother” is the other one, and she capitalized them both with intention. Certainly, her “Mother” and her “Martinis” (as well as her Manhattans, her ryes, her scotches, and her beers) marked her life, branded her work, and deeply affected her development."

"Perversion interests me most and is my guiding darkness."

"Highsmith’s life and work would always give the appearance of a balancing act."


Books by Joan Schenkar

  • The Glass Cell
  • 1,109 ratings
  • November 6th 2014 by Virago

    (first published 1964)

  • Women's Barracks
  • 245 ratings
  • May 1st 2005 by The Feminist Press at CUNY

    (first published 1950)

  • Cabin Fever
  • 2 ratings
  • November 1st 2011 by Samuel French

    (first published 1984)

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Joan Schenkar
  • Joan Schenkar

  • Born: The United States.

  • Description: JOAN SCHENKAR has been called "America's most original female contemporary playwright." TRULY WILDE, her biography of Oscar's interesting niece Dolly Wilde, was hailed as "a revelation, the great story of a life and of the creation of modern culture." THE TALENTED MISS HIGHSMITH has already been acclaimed as the "definitive" Highsmith biography.

    As a child actor in Seattle, Schenkar made many television and stage appearances (one of them was with Everett Edward Horton) and was a touring member of the corps de ballet of The Cornish Ballet Company. She wrote her first play while living in The Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan.

    The recipient of more than forty grants, fellowships, and awards for her "comedies of menace" (including seven National Endowment for the Arts grants), Schenkar has been reviewed in every major (and many minor) newspaper in the English-speaking theatre world. She has been playwright-in-residence in universities, artists' colonies, as well as in such experimental theatre companies as Joseph Chaikin’s Winter Project, The Polish Laboratory Theatre, and The Minnesota Opera New Music Theatre Ensemble. She is an alumna of New Dramatists, and a current member of The Authors Guild, Societe des auteurs et compositeurs dramatiques, PEN, The Dramatists’ Guild, and The Brontë Society. She was founder and artistic director of Force Majeure Productions in New York City. The London theatre company, SIGNS OF LIFE THEATRE, was named after her play and a road in Pownal, Vermont has been named after her. She has an ABD in English and American literature and aesthetics.

    Her published plays include one of the most widely-produced and studied plays in the history of theatre written by women, SIGNS OF LIFE. She has had more than five hundred productions of her work on stage, radio, and video, including the following plays: CABIN FEVER, SIGNS OF LIFE, THE LODGER, BUCKS AND DOES, MR. MONSTER, THE LAST OF HITLER, BETWEEN THE ACTS, HUNTING DOWN THE SEXES, FULFILLING KOCH’S POSTULATE, FAMILY PRIDE IN THE 50’s, FIRE IN THE FUTURE, THE UNIVERSAL WOLF, BURNING DESIRES.

    Feature articles about JOAN SCHENKAR’s work have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times,The Village Voice, The Washington Post, The Denver Post, and The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. She is the subject of articles and interviews in such scholarly and theatrical journals as: TDR, Theatre Journal, PAJ, Modern Drama, Women and Performance, Michigan Quarterly Review, Studies in American Drama, Alternatives Theatrales, and Feminist Re-visions. Her short stories have been published in several anthologies.

    SIGNS OF LIFE: Six Comedies of Menace, a collection of her plays, was published in 1998 and was a Wesleyan University Press best-seller. TRULY WILDE: the unsettling story of Dolly Wilde, Oscar’s unusual niece was published by Basic Books/​Perseus in New York, Virago Press/​Little Brown in London and RandomHouse/​ Mondadori in Barcelona in 2000 and 2001 and was a finalist for The Lamda Literary Award. Her latest work –- a literary biography of Patricia Highsmith, THE TALENTED MISS HIGHSMITH: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith -- has just been published by St Martin's Press (New York), and will be published by Diogenes Verlag (Zurich), and Circe Press (Barcelona) in 2010.

    JOAN SCHENKAR lives and writes in Paris and Greenwich Village.