If you want to read something fast and exciting, don’t try to read this book. I’m conscious to say anything bad about the novel that might put-off a suspecting reader, because I love this book. Alison and Veronica meet in the year of the glamorous 80’s era in New York. Alison is a young model trying to escape the wreck of her blossoming career and Veronica – the eccentric, critic, fashionable middle-aged office worker- her friend. Over the next twenty-years their friendship blooms and encompasses tenderness, sacrifice, love and death. Narratives from the present to past and the other way that creates a timeless depth and comparison to an era we can only knew if that is where we belong.
I love everything about the 80’s. Being born in the year of 1987, I guess I can feel for the era through its music. Unconsciously hearing something from that year over the radio as a kid that even though I don’t really recall hearing something (and having no specific memory about it), places and everyday actions –like taking a bath- sometimes makes it utterly recognizable, asking myself ‘when did I heard that song?’. Why did I tell you this one? The book makes me think. And reminisce.
Well anyway, the novel is somehow nostalgic for my taste that I began to like it. Gaitskill’s prose here is like a multi-colored yarn. Connected in one piece but different and none the less have connections that I have to remind myself the point of view is from two different timelines. I also never find myself confuse because I was so attached with her narratives. The writing is edgy, there is violence but it’s not pretentious, describing things around with a keen observation for the macabre but in a poetic way. It doesn’t have the ‘what will happen next’ feel to it but you continue to read the story anyway. Basically it doesn’t have a plot to start with, but somehow the thought of questioning the novel’s drive is really not needed here. Gaiskill presents the reader nothing but leaves the reader questioning without hoping for an answer and feeling satisfied without having something. It is a feeling with a word I really cannot describe. I can call this novel ‘to each his own’ type since I would agree if someone hates it. But it has some pleasure I don’t know what to call. It resides within beauty and ugly. Maybe you reading it would have a name for it. It is also like an art, viewed in many different interpretations. Like what gift Allison got from Veronica.
The novel is a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction. A New York Times Review Best Book of the Year and a finalist for both Los Angeles Times Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Opening Sentence: When I was young, my mother read me a story about a wicked little girl.
Ending Sentence: I will be full of gratitude and joy.