by Mary Gaitskill ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 2, 1988
Though this first story collection covers the now-familiar N.Y.C. bohemian terrain of drugs, kinky sex, and strivings for artistic success, there's a difference: this author concentrates on the inside of her characters' heads. In the best of these pieces, she looks not so much at the ""bad behavior"" itself as at the consciousness behind it, calmly and clinically charting desires, ideas, and emotions. In ""A Romantic Weekend,"" Beth comes close to unraveling from anxiety--she vacillates between feelings of inadequacy and grandiosity, her masochistic fantasies shading over into corny, romantic visions that are ""brutality embarrassing, too much so to stay in her mind for more than seconds."" The object of her obsession hopes to exploit her ""foolish lust for something resembling passion""; he sees her veer ""between extravagant outbursts of opinion and sudden, uncertain halts, during which she seemed to look to him for approval. She was in love with the idea of intelligence and overestimated her own. Her sense of the world, though she presented it aggressively, could be, he sensed, snatched out from under her with little or no trouble""--all of which sets the tone for their hostile affair. In ""Connection"" and ""Other Factors,"" characters who've managed to get their messy lives more or less on track look back and try to make sense of wild and damaging experiences in the past, and reach out, trying to forgive and understand old (treacherous) friends. In Gaitskill's world, college students work as prostitutes, people wander through gallery openings and exclusive clubs one step away--both physically and emotionally--from the homeless who rummage through garbage cans. It's the landscape of Tams Janowitz and Jay McInerny, except that Gaitskill is looking on its inhabitants with X-ray vision. An observant, ironic, usually uncompromising new voice that has bite--and a fictional debut, with its intelligent, disturbing realism, that's very welcome.
Pub Date: June 2, 1988
Page Count: -
Publisher: Poseidon/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1988
Hey there, book lover.
We’re glad you found a book that interests you!