Thursday, January 14, 2010

Book Review: Veronica

Veronica: A Novel Veronica: A Novel by Mary Gaitskill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I became aware of Mary Gaitskill's work when she was featured in Poet & Writers magazine. This is the first book of hers, that I have read.

I found the book strangely compelling and repulsing, all at once. I am not sure I agree with her world view, but what she does well is capture the world of the mind. The second self it seems to me. Alison, the narrator is trapped in her own confusion it seems to me.

Veronica is a woman she meets while temping in NYC in between modeling jobs.

The counter balance of the ugly and the beautiful and the elegant and the profane is amazingly well done. While it could have come off as trite, it doesn't.

The organization of the book is interesting and it works, although it does make the book hard to start, I found, the flipping thru the past, present, and middle, seemed strange at first.

My biggest issue is even in the end, I just did not like Alison very much. I never really connected with her. Maybe we aren't suppose to, I am not sure.

I also think that MG's message is very strong, but not preachy, I like that. I like that she leaves things rather unresolved and not packaged and neat and trite at the end. I really like that.

Overall I feel the first half of the book is the meat of the book. For me anyway. I found the ending worked, but not as well as the beginning and the middle. I also think that some of what she includes about Alison today - the friends she lunches with, was extra in a way, as was some of the details of her childhood. I felt as if MG had chosen one set of details or the other, the story might have been stronger.

Her style is amazing and her use of language very poetic, but blunt and clean.

I also appreciate that she does not over write - but I sometimes feel like MG throws us something and then leaves it very unresolved, in a ways that feels off to me. I think she handles John and Alison's relationship very well. That felt connected for me, by the end, but there are other things, other details which seem to have the potential to add something but don't.

What I do like and the flip side of my critic above is the fact that I think she is being accurate. I think life is like this. A series of events, with seemingly no real connection, except for the fact that they all happen and are experienced by us in a sequence

I will say that this book is gritty. It is blunt and frank. MG makes no real effort to clean it up or sanitize it any way.

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