Veronica (Vintage Contemporaries) (Paperback)
Vintage, 9780375727856, 272pp.
Publication Date: July 18, 2006
A finalist for the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award, here is an evocative novel about female friendship in the glittering 1980s.
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.
About the Author
Praise For Veronica (Vintage Contemporaries)…
“Gatiskill is enormously gifted. . . . [Veronica] is a masterly examination of the relationship between surface and self, culture and fasion, time and memory." —The New York Times Book Review
"Gaitskill has written a novel that will leave you shaking and joyful simultaneously, dizzy with the proximity of private terror and bottomless hope." —O, The Oprah Magazine
“Twisted, beautiful, grotesque, graceful, and exceedingly well-executed. People write their whole lives in the hope of coming up with just one sentences that rises to the level of this book.” —The Sunday Oregonian
“Gaitskill taps into a deeper vein of emotional force, and with vivid language and an absorbing architecture, she delivers her most affecting, sophisticated work to date.” —The Boston Globe
“Beautiful, devastating. . . . Gaitskill devotes almost religious attention to language and to our failure to make our lives as grand as the art we love. There are paragraphs like poems in Veronica that lure you back, over and over.” —Elle
"Gaitskill writes so radiantly about violent self-loathing that the very incongruousness of her language has shocking power." —Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"Sensuous and precise. . . . Veronica captures the nexus between the erotic glamour [of the 1980's] and its epic heartlessness." —Entertainment Weekly
"Gaitskill writes from the gut . . . [Her] characters bleed, sweat, cry, and they experience sadness, anger and love as much as a physical sensation as an emotion." —San Francisco Chronicle
"Gaitskill's style is gorgeously caustic . . . Her ability to capture abstract feelings and sensations with a prescise and unexpected metaphor is a squirmy delight to encounter in such abundance." —Heidi Julavits, Pubishers Weekly
“[Veronica] creates an atmosphere, provokes a response, and suffuses us with an emotion that we can easily, all too easily, summon up. It's art that you can continue to see even with your eyes closed." —Francine Prose, Slate
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
What is the significance of the story Alison’s mother told her about the wicked little girl when she was a child? In what ways does it function as a kind of parable, or prediction, of Alison’s life?
Alison’s narrative shifts between past and present, or rather between several layers of the past and the present. What effects does Mary Gaitskill create through this method of narration? In what ways does it mirror the way the mind and memory actually work?
Gaitskill often personifies music in Veronica: “music, lightly skipping in the main rooms, here bumbled from wall to wall like a ghost groaning in purgatory”; “Music fell out of windows, splattered on the ground, got up, and walked away.” Why does Gaitskill emphasize music throughout the novel? Why is music so important to Alison?
Veronica tells Alison: “prettiness is always about pleasing people. When you stop being pretty, you don’t have to do that anymore. I don’t have to do that anymore. It’s my show now.” How does Alison’s beauty enslave her? In what ways is Veronica more free because she lacks such beauty?
What does Alison mean when she says that she became a demon and “was saved by another demon, who looked on me with pity and so became human again. And because I pitied her in return, I was allowed to become human, too”? Why would such a mutual pity enable Alison and Veronica to regain their humanity? What is the source of this pity?
What does the novel reveal about the early days of AIDS? How do people react to Veronica when they learn she has AIDS?
Veronica is an exceptionally painful novel, filled with sickness, cruelty, suffering, and death, and yet it ends with Alison saying, “I will call my father and tell him I finally heard him. I will be full of gratitude and joy.” What has she finally heard? What is she grateful for? Why does she anticipate such joy?