Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Veronica is the first work by Mary Gaitskill that I've read. I'd heard a lot of praise and recommendations for both the novel itself and for Gaitskill as a writer, so it had been on my To Read list for a while.

I had a somewhat strange reaction to the book, because I started out really disliking it. I couldn't shake the feeling that the author was trying too hard to force profound meanings onto incongruous details. I stuck with it, though, and soon became too wrapped up in the interesting structure of the story to pay too much attention to my initial complaint.

The narrative follows Allison, a middle aged woman suffering from hepatitis, as she leaves her house and goes about a mundane day. Different moments in her present trigger memories, during which we get the parallel narrative of her life as a young model in New York during the 1980's. Those flashbacks themselves jump among different time periods, from when Allison first runs away from home as a teenager to when she later develops an unlikely friendship with an older coworker, the Veronica of the title. I never really warmed up to any of the characters, but the story was so interestingly constructed and so skillfully juggled that I couldn't help but admire it.

Have you ever done an about face and changed your opinion in the middle of a book?

1 comment:

  1. We studied a Gaitskill short story, "Tiny, Smiling Daddy" in my fiction writing class just a few months ago. Great writer!



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