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Im Spiegel der anderen
Mary Gaitskill
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Im Spiegel der anderen

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  1,554 Ratings  ·  146 Reviews
Deutsche EA
Paperback, 379 pages
Published 1992 by Rowohlt (first published 1991)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Sep 30, 2007 Ian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Yes Sir!: The All-Boy Maid Service
I love Mary Gaitskill. This is her first novel. This book is structurally flawed, but I think the flaw is due to her focus and the material and probably unavoidable. (Her second novel, Veronica, is a diamond.) The prose is flawless. Her observations are incisive, honest, vicious, hilarious, and penetrating. And oddly comforting. I have read this book at least four or five times and don't doubt that I'll read it again.

I dock a star not so much for the aforementioned structural problems but becaus
May 03, 2007 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mary Gaitskill is one of my favorite authors. Her stories and novels are frightening, dark, and revealing. Her characters are often cruel, scared, ugly, and in pain. But they also seem familiar somehow, and sympathetic even when they should be unlikeable. Gaitskill's "girls" in this novel are developed through vignettes about their childhoods interspersed with present interactions between themselves and with others. I love this book especially for its satire of Ayn Rand (Anna Granite) and Object ...more
Helen McClory
This book punches you repeatedly in the solar plexus with the full force of human horribleness. It's also about sympathy, connection, and understanding.
Apr 08, 2014 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had some fixed ideas about what this book would be about when I started it. I thought it would be about Ayn Rand, and I thought it would be about sexual abuse. And I guess it sort of is, but I think that these descriptions do not do it justice.

In fact, what it seems to me the novel is really about is cruelty. Cruelty and weakness. Cruelty and weakness as they are somehow inscribed into the very fabric of society, of school, of families, of sex, of children. Of course, Ayn Rand is about that to
alyssa carver
i turned to this in order to escape from Blood Meridian (which i hate a lot and think i might not finish at all), and at first it was refreshing to encounter female characters with interiority and subjective emotions, etc. for some reason, father-daughter sexual abuse is more palatable to me than diseased horses with swollen heads and drunk white dudes who kill random mexicans for no reason.

i read this quickly and remained fully engaged even on crowded subway rides. but in retrospect, i am not s
Apr 05, 2010 rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, own, lady-lit
With the caveat that I would probably not choose to read this a second time: this is a dense, dark, dramatic (but not unrealistic) look at the traumas of girlhood, in all of their forms. As one might expect from the title, Gaitskill's major points of exploration are body image, sexuality, and gendered power struggles, all sort of brilliantly set against the backdrop of a fictional Ayn Rand character and her work.

The most recommendable thing about this book is Gaitskill's writing. She's a writer
Sep 26, 2007 Jeremy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ayn rand fans AND haters, shrinks, and survivors of child abuse
In the first 3 pages of this book, i was ready to put it down. I found the prose self-consciously disinterested, the metaphors forced, and the characters unlikable. However, I had promised a good friend I would read it so I kept on. About page 20 the book got into a great rhythm. The narrators dual voice co-alesced as the main characters took shape. When the narrative began to sweep backward, through the childhoods of the "two girls", the book became one of those rare windows into the strange em ...more
Apr 24, 2007 ruzmarì rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romansdegare
There's something about this book that you just don't want to put down, and something about it that you really don't want to touch. It's a long story of dysjunction and marginalization, self-torture and the ways people manage to hurt each other and somehow still find common ground. Gaitskill has a predilection for the eerie blurriness of sexuality, the place where tenderness and pathology intersect, and loneliness lies down with brutality. These shadowy encounters make up the economy of human re ...more
Mar 19, 2009 Vivien rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grokked
Just finished this today, and was sad to let these two characters go. This is a traumatising book about two traumatised women, and it has no real resolution, like life itself. The book is fundamentally about people who fail to connect with anyone in their lives, despite being sensitive, intelligent, and monumentally lonely.

I am irritated by the cover blurb that calls the book "darkly erotic." I guess any time a woman writes about sex in an open, noneuphmetistic manner, that's "erotic." Clearly,
Mar 21, 2007 M rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Utterly depressing. I appreciate, from a literary standpoint, what Gaitskill is trying to achieve, but after I read this book I pretty much wished I hadn't. She is a much stronger short story writer, in my opinion.
I chose Two Girls, Fat and Thin for our book club (The League of Unreliable Narrators, aka #Chicagiforifiction) because I hadn't read any Mary Gaitskill, and I'd heard good things about both this, her debut novel, and her breakout short story collection, Bad Behavior. I didn't know much except that it had some pretty explicit S&M, and was partially about an Ayn Rand-like writer and political thinker named Anna Granite. So, off we went into the woods of self-hate and Definitism.

To start with,
Mar 02, 2017 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a novel about two women, "thin" Justine Shade and "fat" Dorothy Never who are young adults still reeling from childhood abuse when Justine asks to interview Dorothy about her experiences with inspirational philosopher Anna Granite (a thinly disguised Ayn Rand).

Dorothy joined Granite's movement after escaping the aptly named Painesville, Pennsylvania, where she was sexually assaulted and raped by her father. Justine is a doctor's daughter who now writes for a magazine. She was abused by
Jun 20, 2008 Daisy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: swooningly-good
A friend of mine who is an avid reader with nearly impeccable taste had recommended that I read the entire catalogue of her work, so when I ran across this book, I decided to give it a try.

Now, I'm no expert, but the story is centered around a dead writer whose books and individually driven philosophy closely resemble those and that of Ayn Rand. The two central characters (one fat, one thin) have lived lives running strangely parallel, though they were on opposite sides of a similar experience (
Jul 29, 2013 Zanna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An encounter between two socially disparate and incompatible women is precipitated by their separate interests in an Ayn Rand-like writer-philosopher figure, bringing their parallel histories, linked preoccupations and complementary psyches into unexpected focus, and instigating new phases in both lives.

My impatience with this disturbing convergent narrative and its heavy, sensual language mounted and finally evaporated as I realised that reading it had given me one of the benefits de Botton cla
It's a good first novel but it has very weak points. The characters have moments of being real, but also long periods of being completely one-dimensional. We get it - one girl is fat, one is thin - but despite their physical differences they connect.

The Ayn Rand stuff didn't do much for me, but I thought Justine's journey was interesting enough to make it through the story. If you want to watch a good writer develop into a great writer, read this along with some of Gaitskill's later works. But o
Rhiannon VanBlaricom

This was an ugly story about a woman who is a follower of "Anna Granite" (a very thinly disguised Ayn Rand) and the reporter who interviews her for a story about Granite followers. Both women have abuse histories and problems with intimacy. I couldn't find one character to like. The story was ugly, the ending was ugly, the philosophy was ugly. Disgusting all the way around. Just write something about Ayn Rand and her ugliness in the beginning without creating these depressing and hopeless ch
Apr 17, 2009 Sonya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel is wringing wet with rage and tenderness. Gaitskill doesn't hold anything back about sexuality or the visceral ugliness of bodies, nor of how power is wielded against vulnerable people (and in this novel, women.) It starts off with a comic sensibility, but there's so much more here than a satire of an Ayn Rand-like figure's most ardent follower. You will come to know the two main characters so well and may miss them after the final page.

Listen to this sentence: "Her voice held a tea
Paul Wilner
Oct 12, 2015 Paul Wilner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Starts with a great premise - a satirical account of the Ayn Rand cult - then dives deep into Gaitskill's customary preocupations/obsessions. Wonderful sentences, portraits of the two women, particularly "Dorothy.'' Early Gaitskill, but she's showing what she's made of, and the dense and deep fictional world she can create.
Ellice Switzer
This is one for the ladies...but it's not "chick lit" crap. It's dark, but very good.
Nov 07, 2008 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this years ago and stil remember the almost visceral power of Gaitskill's style.
Jan 15, 2016 Tracy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
more like a 2.5. admired the writing but not crazy about the story
Marie Chow
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 11, 2013 Dennis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read a lot of Mary Gaitskill. In fact, her short story, "Girl on the Plane," is the only other Gaitskill work I've read. Based on the strength of that story, however, I picked up this novel. I had some reservations because I normally don't like sex in fiction (I also don't like to read about drug use and rock & roll) -- and Gaitskill relies on sex and S&M heavily in her works. It's as if she has no other lens through which to explore her themes. No matter. Her writing chops mad ...more
Kane S.
Jul 09, 2015 Kane S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quote from USA Today braces the lower portion of the front cover of the edition of Two Girls, Fat and Thin, by Mary Gaitskill that was sent to me to read: The quote says "Darkly, erotically compelling." I agree with darkly and I absolutely agree with compelling. As for erotic, I find the use of that term regarding this book, overall, to call into question the reviewer's sanity. More likely that line simply sounded good and like a way to sum up the novel smartly. It also works from a marketing ...more
Aug 24, 2016 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really appreciated how Gaitskill achieved something intellectual in this novel in an intensely visceral way. I can't think of another novel about ideas that also conveys emotion and character as well, and I think that mix further serves the ideas she's exploring.

The central conceit of the novel is that Justine Shade, a freelance journalist and part-time doctor's assistant (and the "thin girl" of the title), is doing a story on the influence of Anna Granite, an individualist philosopher closel
Mar 11, 2015 Chasity rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
The book is about a freelance journalist looking to do an article on the founder of the Definist movement who interviews the narrator whose entire 'sane life' has been based on her teachings. The book traces the lives of the girls - now women - highlighting their differences and yet some underlying similarities to their histories. It seems unlikely and plausible at the same time that they should become friends or that their lives should mean anything to each other at all. Yet, somehow, they cont ...more
Jeremy Baker
Jul 28, 2012 Jeremy Baker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like giant robots. I like Batman. I like hard sci-fi, demon-hunters, and yes, even certain vampire flicks. Mary Gaitskill remains one of our great modern masters in part for her ability to compel my attention using none of these elements.

The title lays down all the groundwork in Two Girls, Fat and Thin. There's a girl who's fat, and a girl who's thin. They have coffee together. They talk. They to to war over an article the thin girl is writing about the work of Anna Granite and how it changed
Dec 17, 2013 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who liked "Gone Girl"
Shelves: 2015-read
The story is too long for this novel. Especially the parts about Definitism-- I found myself skipping over a lot of that material. The genius of this novel lies in the backstory of the two protagonists and the way she partially resolves their loneliness at the very end.

In some ways I feel like this is what "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn is trying to do (Gaitskill apparently ripped it to shreds). *Two Girls* tears open the dark underside of humanity and gives us all a look, she exposes the parts o
Laura  Yan
It's always Gaitskill's observant writing, her sexy smarts that make her novels & stories so worthwhile. Tw Girls, Fat and Thin is engaging more because of the fascinating development of the characters's backstories and lives and for the singsong moments of her writing than any grand gesture or meaning, but is a fast and addictive read of escapism.

As always, her depiction of sadomasochism veers toward the subversive, always with very very damaged characters (a bit ironic considering the spe
Jul 25, 2011 Kezia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
I am a fan of Gaitskill's dark themes, and unlike other reviewers I don't find it exploitative to cover child sexual abuse or sadomasochism in a novel.

It's easy to care for nice characters, warm characters, and average characters who do extraordinary, heroic things. Gaitskill has the ability to make us care for characters who aren't especially nice people, who don't do extraordinary things, and who have deeply rooted problems such as the "girls" (women) whose stories we hear.

I enjoyed the mock
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Mary Gaitskill is an American author of essays, short stories and novels. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, Esquire, The Best American Short Stories (1993 and 2006), and The O. Henry Prize Stories (1998). She married writer Peter Trachtenberg in 2001. As of 2005, she lived in New York City; Gaitskill has previously lived in Toronto, San Francisco, and Marin County, CA, as ...more
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“I shared a dorm room with a beautiful neurotic who clung to her beauty as if it were a chance piece of debris keeping her afloat on a violent sea.” 2 likes
“The most rigid pattern was not the one imposed by the school system or the adolescent social system. It was the pattern I made of the people around me, a mythology for their incomprehensible activity, a mythology that brought me a cramped delight, which I protected by putting all possible space between myself and other people. the boundaries of my inner world did not extend out, but in, so that there was a large area of blank whiteness starting at my most external self and expanding inward until it reached the tiny inner province of dazzling color and activity that it safeguarded.” 1 likes
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