elnamaste1, January 4, 2012 (view all comments by elnamaste1)
I picked up the book initially because I have read Mary Gaitskill's other works. It's a great book. A little abstract at times, but I like that. I enjoyed every minute of reading it and missed the characters when I was done.
Michael Evans, January 4, 2010 (view all comments by Michael Evans)
Whether in the short or long story medium, Mary Gaitskill never ceases to amaze with her mastery of language and the narrative form. "Veronica" is her finest work, an engaging and enriching literary experience and inspiration for both burgeoning and established writers. Through proper diet, regular trips to the gym and the savvy use of steroids, my prose one day may be as great as hers.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No (6 of 9 readers found this comment helpful)
Vintage Books USA -
"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Imagine that Edie Sedgwick penned a roman à clef in her 50s, and that she discovered, in her ugly, diseased decrepitude, that celebrities and downtown loft spaces and skuzzy rich hangers-on were the nadir of existence. Imagine that she managed, in her own post?trauma-addled way, to convey a beautiful-ugly portrait of this life, and the life that followed that life, a life of cleaning offices and riding public buses, in a wincingly acute manner that allowed you not only to forgive the destructiveness in which her youthful self luxuriated but view it as a real human tragedy. This is the accomplishment of Veronica, or rather of Alison, who is the narrator and soul-wearied subject of Mary Gaitskill's second novel. Alison, who lived an Edie-ish life, has a face that is "broken, with age and pain coming through the cracks." Now in her 50s, she cleans her friend's toilet for money, she's sick with hepatitis and her "focus sometimes slips and goes funny";an apt description of her story's pleasing disorientation, a story which amounts to a nonchronological recounting of her "bright and scalding" past as she hikes feverishly up a hill. Alison's narration begins as a bracing account of her "gray present" from which she recalls her childhood and her years as a model in Paris and New York and the death of her friend Veronica from AIDS. A former inhabitant of a face-deep world, she cannot describe a person without first reducing his or her face to a single violent visual stroke ("his face was like lava turned into cold rock"). These descriptions;or dismissals;fail, on purpose, to render any character a visual flesh-and-blood presence; instead, Alison's way of seeing renders people distressingly naked. Of course no seasoned reader of Mary Gaitskill would expect a preeningly tragic book about the emotional pitfalls of modeling, and so where there might be an airbrushed homage to failing beauty or weepy nostalgia over formerly elastic body parts there are instead turds, sphincters, scars, wounds and other celebrated repugnancies. Gaitskill's style is gorgeously caustic and penetrating with a homing instinct toward the harrowing; her ability to capture abstract feelings and sensations with a precise and unexpected metaphor is a squirmy delight to encounter in such abundance. As the book progresses, Alison's gray present becomes subsumed by the scalding brightness of her past, until her sick and ugly self is all but obliterated from the pages; aside from the occasional reminder that Alison is climbing a hill, her sage hindsight collapses into the immediacy of her recollections, and Alison's shallow bohemian fixations again become her only story. The result is that her blunt honesty feels face, rather than soul, deep. It is hard to convey the tragedy of a girl in the prime of her beauty who savors the ugly way she experiences herself; it is more wrenching, and more in keeping with the gimlet-eyed clarity of the book's earlier pages, to convey the tragedy of the truly ugly woman, who once, despite her demurrals and insecurities, knew beauty. (Oct. 11) Heidi Julavitsis the author of two novels,The Mineral Palace andThe Effect of Living Backwards. She is a founding editor of theBeliever. Heidi Julavits, Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
by The Oregonian (Portland, OR),
"Beautiful, grotesque, graceful, and exceedingly well-executed. People write their whole lives in the hope of coming up with just one sentence that rises to the level of this book....It's a remarkable achievement."
by Meghan O'Rourke, The New York Times Book Review,
"In Veronica, as ever, Gaitskill's brand of brainy lyricism, of acid shot through with grace, is unlike anyone else's. And it constitutes some of the most incisive fiction writing around."
by Boston Globe,
"Gaitskill taps into a deeper vein of emotional force, and with vivid language and an absorbing architecture, she delivers her most affecting, sophisticated work to date."
by Janet Maslin, The New York Times,
"Beauty and ugliness do battle in Veronica, not only within the minds of its tormented characters but also on the page. Ms. Gaitskill writes so radiantly about violent self-loathing that the very incongruousness of her language has shocking power."
by Entertainment Weekly,
"Don't read this book for its disjointed plot, but for Mary Gaitskill's sensuous yet precise language and her tough portrait of a bygone age. (Grade: A-)"
by Kirkus Reviews,
"[R]avishing....A gorgeous, articulate novel that is at once an unflinching meditation on degradation and a paean to deliverance."
by Booklist (Starred Review),
"[A] raw-nerves novel that is at once elegiac, funny, and life affirming."
by The Washington Post,
"Gaitskill's implacable refusal of sentimentality is her great strength — no group hugs here, just baleful understanding."
by Miami Herald,
"While the book occasionally gives off emotional sparks and affixes apt impressions to well-drawn scenes, its rehashed plot and herky-jerky structure are millstones around the reader's neck."
Alison and Veronica meet amid the nocturnal glamour of 1980s New York: One is a young model stumbling away from the wreck of her career, the other an eccentric middle-aged office temp. Over the next twenty years their friendship will encompass narcissism and tenderness, exploitation and self-sacrifice, love and mortality. Moving seamlessly from present and past, casting a fierce yet compassionate eye on two eras and their fixations, the result is a work of timeless depth and moral power.
Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.