Synopses & Reviews
A New York Times
A man tells a story to a woman sitting beside him on a plane, little suspecting what it reveals about his capacity for cruelty and contempt. A callow runaway girl is stranded in a strange city with another womans fractiously needy children. An uncomprehending father helplessly lashes out at the daughter he both loves and resents. In these raw, startling, and incandescently lovely stories, the author of Veronica yields twelve indelible portraits of people struggling with the disparity between what they want and what they know. Because They Wanted To is further evidence that Gaitskill is one of the fiercest, funniest, and most subversively compassionate writers at work today.
"In her second volume of short stories, Gaitskill continues to exploit an odd juxtapositioning of adjectives to describe the extreme emotional situations of young urban people who mistake debasement for passion, manipulation for affection, cruelty for intensity. One feels the oddity of Gaitskill's verbal pairings matches the oddity of her characters coupling or trying to. She tries repeatedly to squeeze effect out of incongruity and outlandishness. What results is a shabby soap opera straining to be hip. It's best described by the author: 'there was a vacuous delicacy....,' 'a benevolent functional daze.' The volume becomes a 'house of squalor, comfort, and mundane beauty.' Her first volume of stories, Bad Behavior, was fresher and more convincing." Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
In stories set on airplanes, in restaurants, at parties, and in assorted bedrooms, the bestselling author of "Bad Behavior" entices readers to "listen in" on characters whom they may not want to know--but whose secrets are irresistibly intriguing.