Synopses & Reviews
Following the extraordinary success of her novel Veronica
, Mary Gaitskill returns with a luminous new collection of stories — her first in more than ten years.
In "College Town 1980," young people adrift in Ann Arbor debate the meaning of personal strength at the start of the Reagan era; in the urban fairy tale "Mirrorball," a young man steals a girl's soul during a one-night stand; in "The Little Boy," a woman haunted by the death of her former husband is finally able to grieve through a mysterious encounter with a needy child; and in "The Arms and Legs of the Lake," the fallout of the Iraq war becomes disturbingly real for the disparate passengers on a train going up the Hudson — three veterans, a liberal editor, a soldier's uncle, and honeymooners on their way to Niagara Falls.
Each story delivers the powerful, original language, and the dramatic engagement of the intelligent mind with the craving body — or of the intelligent body with the craving mind — that is characteristic of Gaitskill's fiction. As intense as Bad Behavior, her first collection of stories, Don't Cry reflects the profound enrichment of life experience. As the stories unfold against the backdrop of American life over the last thirty years, they describe how our social conscience has evolved while basic human truths — "the crude cinder blocks of male and female down in the basement, holding up the house," as one character puts it — remain unchanged.
"A grab bag of 10 stories spotlight the writhing of Gaitskill's (Veronica) listless characters within unloving landscapes. In the portrayal of a depressive 29-year-old graduate student trying to pick up her life after a shattering breakup, 'College Town, 1980,' set in Ann Arbor, encapsulates the collective self-abnegation that seized America's young on the cusp of the Reagan revolution. 'The Agonized Face' is a rigorous critique of a feminist author who manipulates her audience 'with her sullied, catastrophic life placed before us for the purpose of selling her.' Mostly, though, characters give in to nostalgia rather than anger, like the medical technician in 'A Dream of Men' whose bittersweet memories of her dying father mingle with her ambivalence about her sexuality; or a now-married middle-aged writer's touching encounter with a stylish former lesbian lover she had 15 years before. The title story's protagonist, a recent widow accompanying her friend to adopt a baby in an unstable Addis Ababa, is nearly submerged by her guilt at having been once unfaithful to her husband, but like others in Gaitskill's pristinely rendered yet joyless gallery, she finds visceral gratitude in unexpected moments." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Readers may find it difficult to adhere to the title's admonition as they navigate the devastating territory covered in Gaitskill's latest collection....hauntingly magical." Library Journal
"Mary Gaitskill commands her readers' attention as few fiction writers can." New York Times
"Remarkable....Gaitskill seems to have traveled through a lifetime of perception...with every character knowing the intimacy and exhaustion of sorrow." Boston Globe
"It is her recognition of the battle of the myth hero against the constraints of our existence that marks her work as groundbreaking." Oregonian
"Gaitskill is a fiercely empathetic writer — her concern always how close we can get to the pith of a protagonist or relationship — and Don't Cry is wonderfully Machiavellian in its excavation of character." San Francisco Chronicle
"The culture has caught up with Mary Gaitskill, and she's not happy about it. 'Things are not like they once were,' a journalist says in Don't Cry
, an awkwardly self-conscious new collection that seems to represent something of an artistic midlife crisis. 'Sex and the City is on TV.'" William Deresiewicz, The Nation
(read the entire Nation review
Following the extraordinary success of her novel Veronica, Gaitskill returns with a luminous new collection of stories — her first in more than 10 years.
Mary Gaitskill returns with a luminous new collection of stories--her first in more than ten years. In "College Town l980," young people adrift in Ann Arbor debate the meaning ofpersonal strength at the start of the Reagan era; in the urban fairy tale "Mirrorball," a young man steals a girl's soul during a one-night stand; in "The Little Boy," awoman haunted by the death of her former husband is finally able to grieve through a mysterious encounter with a needy child. Each story delivers the powerful, original language, and the dramatic engagement of theintelligent mind with the craving body--or of the intelligent body with the craving mind--that has come to be seen as stunningly emblematic of Gaitskill'sfiction.
"From the Trade Paperback edition."
About the Author
Mary Gaitskill is also the author of Because They Wanted To (nominated for a PEN/Faulkner Award) and the novel Two Girls, Fat and Thin. Veronica was nominated for the National Book Award. Gaitskill is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper's, Esquire, The Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. She lives in New York.
Table of Contents
College town, 1980 -- Folk song -- An old virgin -- The agonized face -- Mirror ball -- Today I'm yours -- The little boy -- The arms and legs of the lake -- Description -- Don't cry.