Grifter

Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 suspense novel The Talented Mr. Ripley, recently adapted into a television series for Showtime, centers around a character who has set the bar for the literary archetype of “the grifter.” In a T Magazine essay, Megan O’Grady writes that Tom Ripley embodies self-authorship, which is “all about creating a convincing character within the narrative structure of one’s own aspirational thinking.” O’Grady argues that Highsmith’s novel has foretold our era of self-invention: “con artists and ‘visionaries,’ the gurus and hucksters, schemers and dreamers, the online dating scammers—all of our 21st-century buccaneers of society, politics, and commerce.” Write a story with a grifter as its protagonist, one with a self-invented identity that drifts into high society in search of prestige.