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Veronica by Mary Gaitskill

Veronica (2005)

by Mary Gaitskill

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Edgy, and a little seedy. I think the frequent references to liver (both metaphorical and medical) creeped me out a bit. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 4, 2014 |
one of my all-time favorite writers. ( )
  julierh | Apr 7, 2013 |
There were moments when I truly enjoyed this book and got wrapped up in the voice of the narrator, but unfortunately, there were far more sections where I was bored, and simply reading to read. Simply, the narrator is herself apathetic enough that it's far too easy for readers to find themselves feeling the same way, and just not caring about what happens going forward. In the end, I felt that the title came from the fact that the book is something of a character study of two women, albeit one that takes time to even move into a phase of discovery; as a result, I found the characters and writing interesting...but as far as the novel as a whole goes, I just never found myself in a position where I really cared about moving forward with the story or discovering the next step on the so-called plot. Simply, I wouldn't recommend this one. It wasn't bad...but then, it wasn't much of anything. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Aug 19, 2012 |
OK, I admit it. My reading tastes are conservative. When I read a novel I like to see sentences which relate clearly to the adjacent sentences. I like to be able to understand what most of the sentences mean without having to read, re-read, then read again. I expect a stream of images in poetry, but not in a novel. I most enjoy reading books in which I really get to know and understand one or more of the characters.

I gave this book a good shot; I nearly reached half way. But I've done some reflection since my sister was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, and I've decided I don't have time to waste reading books I don't like, even if the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said it was "Full of viscous jewels. Nearly every page offers unexpectedly incandescent images that will linger long in the reader's mind" and The New York Observer said "Reading Mary Gaitskill is like having a flock of birds fly straight at your face: You recognize the beauty, but you still want to caver your eyes..."! ( )
  oldblack | Mar 18, 2012 |
I only read this book because I needed a book that started with the letter V for my alphabet challenge. The reviews on Amazon were extremely mixed, people seemed to really either love or hate this book. I can understand, as I definitely loved this book.

The story is told from the point of view of a woman in her 40s who was once very beautiful - a model in fact. She went through her teens and twenties traveling back and forth from Paris and San Francisco and had little to do with her middle class, Midwestern family. As she grew older she began to do drugs and engage in self destructive and abusive relationships. She soon learned how quickly her age and her lifestyle were catching up with her.

The main problem people on Amazon had with this book is that it's not told in any kind of linear way. It travels from present day, to 20 years ago, to 10 years ago and back to present day, sometimes in the span of a single page. Many people had trouble following it and I was a little concerned that I would as well, but I found it to flow beautifully. For me, the time jumping was the first successful attempt I've read at stream of consciousness writing.

In addition to the main character's story is the story of Veronica, a woman with AIDS, that the young protagonist befriends out of pity. In the parts of the books that are told when the MC is in her 40s, she's stunned by how she once looked upon Veronica, especially considering that they are now very similar people (though Veronica died 10+ years ago).

In summation, I found this book to be really interesting and to capture the fleetingness of youth very well, as well as the way that time can change the way we see ourselves and each other. I would recommend it to people who want a challenging read, as it does require your undivided attention. ( )
  agnesmack | Sep 25, 2011 |
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When I was young, my mother read me a story about a wicked little girl.
"I told them I loved them. Now I can't think why. Perhaps it was simply that , in each case, I was the woman and he was the man. And that was enough."
"I didn't realize how badly I had been hurt. I didn't realize that my habit of distance had become so unconscious and deep that I didn't know how to be with another person. I could only fix that person in my imagination and turn him this way and that, trying to feel him, until my mind was tired and raw."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 037572785X, Paperback)

Alison and Veronica meet amid the nocturnal glamour of 1980s New York: One is a young model stumbling away from the wreck of her career, the other an eccentric middle-aged office temp. Over the next twenty years their friendship will encompass narcissism and tenderness, exploitation and self-sacrifice, love and mortality. Moving seamlessly from present and past, casting a fierce yet compassionate eye on two eras and their fixations, the result is a work of timeless depth and moral power.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:57 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"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 Veronica - an 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 Alison's reentry into the seductive nocturnal realm of fashion, but also Veronica's 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." "Veronica is about the fragility and mystery of human relationships, the failure of love, and love's abiding power."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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