The Gaitskill Quote

Self finished reading Veronica a few days ago, and dived right into Bad Behavior, one of Gaitskill’s short story collections. Oh, how self adores Gaitskill (even though almost all the protagonists are spiritually maimed women — for example, writers who moonlight as prostitutes!)

Here’s a typical exchange. It’s from the story “Trying to Be” :

“Hi,” said a man with a hideous hunk of hair. “I like your hat.”

“Thank you.”

“Would you like to dance?”

“No, thank you.” She looked right at him when she said this, meaning to convey that she didn’t consider him repulsive, but that she was deep in thought and couldn’t dance.

It didn’t work; he stared away with a ruffled air and then said, “Do you want to go to the Palladium?”

“No, thank you.”

He looked at her with theatrical scorn and she noticed that he was actually handsome. “Are you French?” he asked.

“No. Why do you ask? Do I sound French?”

“I don’t know. You just look like you might be. Are you a dancer?”

“No. Why?”

“I don’t know. You have to be something.” He looked as if he was about to spit.

“What do you do?” she asked.

“I’m an architect. Do you want some coke?”

Self figures Gaitskill might as well take out a patent on her dialogue: it is so sharp about the various ways that men and women find to irritate each other. Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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