Review: Veronica by Mary Gaitskill

veronica cover Review: Veronica by Mary Gaitskill

Imagine ten pictures of this conversation. In nine of them, shes the fool and Im the person who has something. But in the tenth, Im the fool and its her show now.

model veronica Review: Veronica by Mary Gaitskill

Mary Gaitskills second novel, Veronica, which has garnered such commendations as a New York Times Book Review best book of the year, and a place as a finalist in the National Book Awards, is an uncomfortable and disquieting read, but one that will keep you turning the pages, having engaged your attention in the same sort of grotesque manner as might a car crash.

Despite the the books title, the book is narrated by world-weary and confused sometimes-model Alison, who is struggling with a variety of personal conflicts, both past, present, and future. Told through a series of vignettes that link together Alisons painful present with the slowly unravelling story of her past, Veronica slowly traces the downwards trajectory of this erstwhile up-and-coming model. Alisons relationship with Veronica, an eccentric woman who works as an office temp and who is caught up in an unhealthy open relationship, is slowly seized upon and teased out, showing us how these two unlikely acquaintances—perhaps calling them friends would be a little too generous—came to know each other. As ruined Alison reflects back on the personal- and career-related decisions she has made in her life , the reader also sees Veronicas story slowly and awkwardly unfurl: Veronica is dying from AIDS.

The book is uncompromising and unflinching, and rather than falling into something mawkish and sentimental, Gaitskill drags the reader into a dark and unheimlich world. On a prose level, she is a deft and skilled writer, hurling at the reader dark descriptions that almost always ring true. While the non-chronological approach to narrative structure generally worked well, I felt at times that there was a certain repetitiveness to the plot that came about as a result of this non-traditional structure, and the book floundered a little in the first hundred pages or so as Gaitskill iterated, reiterated, and re-reiterated the sordidness of narrator Alisons life and her choices. Still, Veronica is generally an accomplished novel, and would be well-suited as a book-club pick.

 Review: Veronica by Mary Gaitskill

Purchase Veronica.

Other books by Mary Gaitskill you might enjoy: Bad Behaviour; Dont Cry

Acknowledgements: model image by federico stevanin, courtesy of
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