Mary Gaitskill Archive

Friendship and Redemption in Veronica

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In contemporary literature, Mary Gaitskill stands out for her unapologetically sexual and taboo themes. Her work is easily characterized as gritty and explicit; it also, however, offers nuance and heart while considering questions of how people pursue pleasure and at what cost.

Cruelty in Literature

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What do we learn from new depictions of brutalized bodies in literature?

Helen DeWitt’s Lightning Rods and the Supremacy of Capitalist Masculinity

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Lightning Rods, Helen DeWitt’s 2011 follow up to her critically acclaimed novel The Last Samurai, satirizes not just the “sexual harassment problem” in white collar offices, but a business culture that puts a premium on cutthroat masculinity.

What are Words For?

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“That for which we find words is something already dead in our hearts. There is always a kind of contempt in the act of speaking.” I’ve always bristled at Nietsche’s many remarks on language. Here’s another: “All words are prejudices.”

On Sentimentality: Zoe Heller, Leslie Jamison, Nate Pritts, & Mary Ruefle

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When we talk about sentimentality in literature, we talk about the “contemporary, pejorative sense of the word,” Zoe Heller writes for the New York Times. A word defined by Merriam-Webster as “the quality or state of being sentimental especially to excess or in affectation.” A word with synonyms such as

The Art of Time(lessness) in Reading

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Pacing, suspense, and flashbacks are just a few of the topics covered in The Art of Time in Fiction, Joan Silber’s insightful reference for writers who wish to better understand the technique of arranging time to narrative effect. Yet I am just as interested in the art of time

The Color Master: An Interview with Aimee Bender

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Certain stories never leave you. When I was six years old, I read such a story in Alvin Schwartz’s In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories: “The Green Ribbon.” In it, a young girl named Jenny wears a green ribbon around her neck and never takes it off.