Mary Gaitskill

Hey, dreams, I dreamed you. I’m not something you curb a dog for.

There’s this guy I know who was raised by professional clowns in New Mexico. When we met seven years ago in New Orleans I was terrified of him but now he can be counted on to bring things to my attention that I would have otherwise missed, like this passage from the introduction to The House of Blue Leaves by John Guare.

I’m right here in the heart of the action, in the bedroom community of the heart of the action, and I live in the El Dorado Apartments and the main street of Jackson Heights has Tudor-topped buildings with pizza slices for sale beneath them and discount radios and discount drugs and discount records and the Chippendale-paneled elevator in my apartment is all carved up with Love To Fuck that no amount of polishing can ever erase. And why do my dreams, which should be the best part of me, why do my dreams, my wants, constantly humiliate me? Why don’t I get the breaks? What happened? I’m hip. I’m hep. I’m a New Yorker. The heart of the action.  Just a subway ride to the heart of the action. I want to be part of that skyline. I want to blend into those lights. Hey, dreams, I dreamed you. I’m not something you curb a dog for. New York is where it all is. So why aren’t I here?


Excerpts / 10 Comments
October 13th, 2010 / 8:07 am

The Removal of Souls, and More, And Misinterpreting Shit

Does Losing Crush Your Spirit?

I am watching tennis. People lose. They seem crushed. Matthew Simmons just wrote about, among other things, an article that wrote about an abortion. Which is funny, because I was thinking about the removal of things (which is different than a crushing of things, but I am super digressing here non-stop), from reading a short story called “Mirrorball” by Mary Gaitskill, (quote after the jump), where she discusses the removal of the soul. Which led me to think of “Love Removal Machine” by The Cult, (I always misheard the lyrics to say, “soul stealer” but it is actually “soul shaker”. Oops. Also, I know the 80s shit is hard to deal with unironically, but I love that song.) Which led me to think of how I also always thought that this song, “Naked Cousin” contained the lyrics, “He’s Ronny”, like that was his name, the name of PJ’s cousin, but no, it’s “He’s running”. Oops again. READ MORE >

Excerpts / 14 Comments
June 29th, 2009 / 10:29 pm

Excerpt from “The Agonized Face” by Mary Gaitskill

On one of those long-ago  assignments, I had interviewed a topless dancer, a desiccated blonde with desperate intelligence burning in her otherwise-lusterless eyes. She was big on Hegel and Nietzsche and she talked about the power of beautiful girls versus the power of men with money. READ MORE >

Excerpts / 17 Comments
May 15th, 2009 / 4:34 pm

When the Whip Comes Down: William Deresiewicz Reviews Mary Gaitskill’s Don’t Cry

There's a heaven above you, baby.

I read “When the Whip Comes Down”  in The Nation yesterday, and I think it’s well worth sharing, not so much because it matters whether Deresiewicz “likes” Mary Gaitskill (he does) or the new book in particular (he doesn’t), but because I think the piece itself is a shining example of a particular kind of critical writing, more or less in its optimum form. Though he’s fit his thoughts into a review-length essay, I think Deresiewicz has given us a valuable piece of criticism-proper. You come away from the review with a substantially enlarged and nuanced understanding of Gaitskill’s work, even if you’ve read it all before (and I have, except for the new one). I also think any aspiring critic looking to hone her skills (and I’ll go ahead and count myself among this number) stands to learn quite a lot from reading Deresiewicz and understanding how he works. After you’ve read “When the Whip Comes Down,” you should click-through on his name at The Nation website and check out his previous work for them. Critics are like any other kind of writer–if you’re lucky enough to find a good one, read up.

How Wood Works: The Riches and Limits of James Wood” (11/19/08)

Homing Patterns: Marilynne Robinson’s Fiction” (9/24/08)

Fuku Americanus” – on Junot Diaz (11/08/07)

Author Spotlight / 12 Comments
April 25th, 2009 / 9:08 am

Similes, Metaphor, a Pushcart Prize Winning Poem and Mary Gaitskill

And shes hot!

And she's hot!

It’s raining in Monte Carlo and so my plans to watch taped tennis all afternoon are shattered, shattered like the broken heart I have today to begin with. (It will be mended as soon as my husband comes home this evening and says, “everthing will be fine”.) The discussion on how many adverbs or similes or anything a writer should use made me think of this poem. Now, I do understand that fiction is not poetry (sorry Blake, that’s my opinion) and I understand that the agent who was sharing these rules did so out of a sort of kindness toward writers. That said, I love similes- even awkward ones, maybe especially awkward ones, like in the poem “Love In The Orangery” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil (who you can find out more about linked here). I also love the miracles that happen in The End of the Affair and cancer stories. READ MORE >

Author Spotlight & Excerpts / 21 Comments
April 16th, 2009 / 4:01 pm

Mary Gaitskill on Slate’s Open Book

The amazing Mary Gaitskill has a new book out. I like all of Gaitskill’s work, but her stories especially, and so I’m very excited about this new book, which I don’t own yet, but hope to very soon. Slate reviewed the book the other day, and they liked it. Gaitskill also appeared on Slate’s Open Book series, which they produce in collaboration with the NYU creative program program. Gaitskill sits down with Meghan O’Rourke and Deborah Landau, to talk about her new book and read from it. One of my favorite things about Open Book is that they post two versions of each interview: the ~10 minute version that gets spotlighted on Slate, but also the extended (ie complete) version of the conversation, which can last upwards of a half hour. 

Gaitskill Open Book, abridged version.  For harcore fans: uncut version here

Previous episodes of Open Book have included conversations with John Ashbery (abridged here; uncut here) and Junot Diaz  (for some reason I can only find the short version of that one).

Author Spotlight / 2 Comments
April 2nd, 2009 / 11:14 am