Synopses & Reviews
The extraordinary new novel from the acclaimed author of Bad Behavior
and Two Girls, Fat and Thin, Veronica
is about flesh and spirit, vanity, mortality, and mortal affection. Set mostly in Paris and Manhattan in the desperately glittering 1980s, it has the timeless depth and moral power of a fairy tale.
As a teenager on the streets of San Francisco, Alison is discovered by a photographer and swept into the world of fashion-modeling in Paris and Rome. When her career crashes and a love affair ends disastrously, she moves to New York City to build a new life. There she meets Veronicaan older wisecracking eccentric with her own ideas about style, a proofreader who comes to work with a personal “office kit” and a plaque that reads “Still Anal After All These Years.” Improbably, the two women become friends. Their friendship will survive not only Alisons reentry into the seductive nocturnal realm of fashion, but also Veronicas terrible descent into the then-uncharted realm of AIDS. The memory of their friendship will continue to haunt Alison years later, when she, too, is aging and ill and is questioning the meaning of what she experienced and who she became during that time.
Masterfully layering time and space, thought and sensation, Mary Gaitskill dazzles the reader with psychological insight and a mystical sense of the souls hurtling passage through the world. A novel unlike any other, Veronica is a tour de force about the fragility and mystery of human relationships, the failure of love, and loves abiding power. It shines on every page with depth of feeling and formal beauty.
From the Hardcover edition.
"Gaitskill begins her bittersweet novel of the friendship between fashion model Alison and the older HIV+ Veronica (whose looks and habits are totally alien to Alison's stylish world) years later when Alison is older and feeling her body slowly decay. While the book follows Alison's younger self as she prances about Paris catwalks and New York nightclubs, the knowledge that she ends up lonely and broken-spirited casts a pall over the telling of those glittering earlier days. Mazur plays on this well, giving Alison a weary yet wistful tone that conveys the weight of her self-loathing. For Veronica's lines, she skillfully alters her voice to be the 'bitterly inflected instrument' Gaitskill describes: nasal, almost braying, but direct and honest in contrast to the timidity and insincerity of Alison's words. The narration can be disorienting as it slips from grim present to various points in the past, but that works to the story's advantage, making all the perspectives bleed together, infusing the whole with sadness. Bleak but compelling, the book affords listeners a wonderfully nuanced glimpse inside a damaged psyche. Simultaneous release with the Vintage paperback (Reviews, Aug. 1, 2005). (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Mary Gaitskill is most recently the author of Because They Wanted To, which was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1998. Her stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Harpers Magazine, Esquire, The Best American Short Stories (1993), and The O. Henry Prize Stories (1998). Her story “Secretary” was the basis for the film of the same name. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, she teaches creative writing at Syracuse University. She lives in New York.