From short stories like the S&M-tinged "Secretary" (the inspiration for the indie film of the same name) to her 2005 National Book Award-nominated novel, Veronica, Mary Gaitskill's words are often etched on a dark canvas -- but still manage to illuminate. "Gaitskill is an unforgiving writer, harsh, caustic and raw," reads the National Book Award judges' citation. "All that masks the enormous accomplishment of her work, the ability to use the dark to cast light."
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New York, New York
Date of Birth:
November 11, 1954
Place of Birth:
B.A., University of Michigan, 1980
Guggenheim Fellowship, 2002
|2005 National Book Award Finalist|
"Gaitskill is talented enough to make you believe that the memoir of a fallen model can be as soulful as it is sordid," reflects the Seattle Times about Gaitskill's acclaimed latest novel. Set in Paris, California, and Manhattan during the go-go '80s, Veronica is a dark but ultimately thrilling chronicle of a young, beautiful woman's coming-of-age, sprinkled with poignant memories of her unlikely friendship with the eccentric title character.
Read an excerpt
|Advice for the Aspiring|
|"Don’t trust in workshops too much," Gaitskill advises aspiring writers in our interview. "At some point, you need to stop asking other people’s opinions, especially on draft-stage work. You need to be alone, in the dark, feeling your way along as if you’re on a tightrope -- because you are."|
|From Page to Screen||Reading Recommendations|
This widely praised collection of Gaitskill's short stories contains an intriguing -- almost uncomfortable -- blend of cruelty, pornography, and, yes, romance. One titillating tale in particular, "Secretary," was the basis for the independent cult film of the same name starring James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
"I’ve been influenced by Vladimir Nabokov, simply because I’ve read him intensely for so many years," Gaitskill reflects in our interview. "Lolita will be on my ten favorites list until the end of my life." Read on to learn more about some of her all-time favorite writers and reads, including: