Don't Cry
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Don't Cry

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  844 ratings  ·  172 reviews
Following the extraordinary success of her novel Veronica, Mary Gaitskill returns with a luminous new collection of stories--her first in more than ten years.

In “College Town l980,” young people adrift in Ann Arbor debate the meaning of personal strength at the start of the Reagan era; in the urban fairy tale “Mirrorball,” a young man steals a girl’s soul during a one-nig...more
Hardcover, 226 pages
Published March 24th 2009 by Pantheon Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Paul
Angelique was a girl with a beautiful right shoulder, too much make-up, and a very expensive handbag made out of the skins of orphans. She had an anthropology degree but she was currently out of work. The problem was not any of that however. The problem which had been causing her sleepless nights, or nights where you just doze fitfully and never really go properly to sleep and see things which are kind of green, was that there was something in her vagina. Having looked at it from every angle, us...more
Greg
Don't Cry was a disappointing reading experience. At first I found the book to be kind of annoying. The first story was quite unappealing, in both the characters and whatever it was that was going on. Then for the next few stories the unappealing just kept happening. None of the stories could seem to escape feeling like there were shocking things being said for the sake of being shocking. Mostly they had to do with fucking, and oftentimes with the fact that women have vaginas. I realize this fac...more
Jessica
This is one of the places where the star system breaks down, because I loved -- five-star loved -- some of these stories so much that I became obsessed and thought about them all the time. But then I liked the ones towards the end less and less, and wound up really feeling repelled (in a bad way) by the last two stories, so.... rating books with stars is so stupid anyway. This is all ridiculously subjective and shouldn't be quantified like that, right? I looked at some reviews on here of people...more
Paul
Angelique was a girl with a beautiful right shoulder, too much make-up, and a very expensive handbag. She had an anthropology degree but she was currently out of work. The problem was not any of that however. The problem which had been causing her sleepless nights, or nights where you just doze fitfully and never really go properly to sleep, was that there was something in her vagina. Having looked at it from every angle she had concluded that it was a penis. Oh dear oh dear, she said to herself...more
Louise
Not every story in the collection is a "wow" but enough of them are and the book works as a whole. The story, Don't Cry, which I originally read in the New Yorker, and loved at the time, grows larger and more poignant within the context of the collection- which seems to me a hallmark of a great short story collection.

There's more formal range here than in Bad Behavior and Because They Wanted To. She takes some risks in this sense.

Yes, she has a bit of a potty mouth ;) This has never bothered me...more
Imogen
While reading: My boyfriend the Random House rep gave me a proof! I know this is attributing things to an author because of the content of their work, but I want Mary Gaitskill to beat me up, cut me and make me cry.

Afterward: Yeah. An interesting thing happened in this one- I can't remember whether it happened in the previous short story collections of hers that I've read, or whether maybe I haven't actually read them- where, as it went on, the stories got less, like, evil, and while they didn'...more
Gregory Baird
Unmitigated, Unreadable Despair

The stories in Mary Gaitskill’s Don’t Cry reflect characters who are profoundly vexed, but not in a profound way. It seems that Ms. Gaitskill has contrived both them and their situations with the simple goal of shocking her reader. The stories are visceral, yes, but they lack substance, and the fact that Gaitskill herself seems to harbor nothing but disdain for her characters makes it impossible for the reader to feel anything for them either. That’s all that t...more
Kim

I remember the first time I read Self-Help and when I picked up Lust and Other Stories. There was this intimidation, this contempt, this other sadness. I wanted to be this good. I wanted to crawl, to burrow into the reader and make myself known.

Dammit.

Gaitskill's collection creeps in like that... at first I was kind of bored. I wasn't impressed with the beginning stories.. it was what I had been experiencing this entire year with the books that I've chosen to read. Meh. But, with Mirror Ball I...more
Laura
None of the characters in this selection of short stories appealed to me. Their lives didn't make me want to learn more, and the obsession with sex that permeated the book just turned me off. Pity, because I usually like Gaitskill's work.
Tim Meneely
People who eschew Gaitskill for her overtly womanly fecundity (anthropogenesis pun, hiyoooo!) are really missing out on a treat.

There are people who write masterfully, and there are master writers. I had never read Gaitskill before, but she is something of a genius with words and this fact struck me in the face.

Some of her subject matter is likely to seem uncomfortable for some, not because she's trumpeting gynocentrism (actually, she devotes time to couching the politicization of gender). Rath...more
Simone Subliminalpop
“Oggi sono tua” altro non è che una summa delle tre raccolte pubblicate in trent’anni dall’autrice, oltre a due romanzi (di cui uno, “Veronica”, edito quasi in contemporanea quest’anno per Nutrimenti).
Mary Gaitskill scrive molto bene e spesso stupisce perché è in grado di non fossilizzarsi su uno stile in particolare o di seguire sempre lo stesso canovaccio che funziona. Hanno tratti molto fisici le storie che racconta, con i corpi della donne che entrano di prepotenza nella visionarietà delle s...more
Philip
I really liked this collection of short stories. I can't wait to read more of Gaitskill's work but this is certainly my favorite of what I've read by her so far.

I've always appreciated her ability to wake me up--in particular, her ability to defamiliarize the understandings of intimacy that I become comfortable with--but in this collection the writing itself is so elegant that I feel encouraged to wake up, regardless of the reality that I'm waking up to.

Every once in a while I come across short...more
Bucket
This is a more expansive collection than Bad Behavior (published 20 years earlier), which mostly featured young women in personal and sexual turmoil. While the turmoil theme is still prominent here, there are plenty of other themes, the variety of characters (gender, age, sexual orientation) is quite wide, and the collection manages to tackle its themes from a variety of directions - in my opinion, this is the mark of a good collection of stories. Bad Behavior managed none of this, and it goes t...more
Benjamin
Mary Gaitskill is one of my favorite writers. Her ability to realistically plumb the human soul and its motives is astonishing. She also can do some lovely writing, turning phrases and metaphors that feel fresh and exact. So, I was excited that this book was out, and after hearing her read from "Mirror Ball" on KCRW's Bookworm, I knew I couldn't wait for paperback.

There are some excellent stories in this collection—stories that individually warrant more than the 3 star rating I gave the book. (T...more
lindsay
i have a soft place in my heart for mary gaitskill for various reasons but this book was kind of bad most of the time. i admire what she does, because it is beautiful and truly grotesque, but there comes a point where it gets boring. most of the characters felt like either representations of or foils to gaitskill and that actually made me uncomfortable. but then again, it usually makes me uncomfortable to read literary fiction about people who write literary fiction. the last two stories are goo...more
Jasmine
I have to say I think this is a very wide spectrum book I say that because while Greg didn't so much like the beginning but liked the end. I cared far less for the end and enjoyed the beginning of the book. I think that it would work well for people who like famous fathers, it uses similar themes in the stories so it is relevant to know if you appreciate such things. It you do not you will not like this book that is simply how it is. Regardless there is at least a little something for everyone a...more
Laura
What the HELL is wrong with Mary Gaitskill? I don't necessarily have a problem with the word "cunt," I even found it used hysterically in Kill Bill, but there's just no reason for it to be used so many times in the beginning of the book. One of the characters just shuffles around mumbling it for no apparent reason, and there is so much talk about vaginas that I started to feel nauseated. What the hell.
Kevin
It's taken me a long time to get through this one for some reason. I like a couple of the stories quite a bit here, like the College Town one and The Agonized Face--both of which are pretty acidic and funny in tone. Some of the other stories seem to ramble on and on a little too much, like little novels that she got bored of and abandoned.
Bookaholic
Cum am ajuns la Mary Gaitskill? Așa cum bănuiește probabil toată lumea: mi-a plăcut filmul Secretary și am vrut s-o citesc pe autoarea nuvelei pe baza căreia a fost scris scenariul. S-a nimerit să găsesc întâi Don’t Cry, o colecție de povestiri relativ recentă (2009), lansată la aproape de douăzeci de ani de la Bad Behaviour (1988), pe care o căutam de fapt. Am decis să o citesc totuși, pentru a putea face o comparație între felul în care Gaitskill scria în tinerețe și felul în care scrie acum.

S...more
Beth
Disappointing. The first two stories were really great, so I was very excited, and then I didn't really resonate with any of the later stories. I still love Mary Gaitskill, but I have to admit I like her best when she's writing about dysfunctional people and dirty sex.
oriana
Oct 19, 2008 oriana marked it as to-read
Gosh, well, I never really considered reading her, but Imogen can be pretty convincing....
Simon Fellowes
Patchy to be honest. I was a huge fan of Mary Gaitskill when I was young. I remember 'Two Girls: One fat, One Thin' having a big effect on me - that women could write this tough! But as she's grown older Gaitskill has tumbled into a sort of psycho-babble adolescent world. Her characters are often a bunch of whiners. If she was out and out satirising them you could appreciate what she is doing, but more often than not you feel she sympathises. The book is saved by a great story about a Vietnam &...more
Stephanie
I found these stories to be very moving. There are several unique female experiences throughout this collection. I like the way that Mary Gaitskill is able to so convincingly convey the thoughts and feelings of women in so many different situations at so many different times over the course of a woman's life. The title story, Don't Cry is the final short in the book. Its, of course, a sad story. In it, she is able to show us the minds of two very different women, in two very different places. Th...more
Abbi Dion
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrea
Brilliant. Gaitskill has an amazing ability of creating these hauntingly beautiful characters that are so real. She writes in somewhat of a dark manner, but it still has a sort of charm and lightness. She commands your attention as her words travel to inexplicable depths, possesing the power to create shocking realizations. The story that fascinated me the most was Mirror Ball, which is about a man that (metaphorically) took a girl's soul in what he considered to be a meaningless one night stand...more
Jenny
These stories are haunting, strange, fragmented. The title story, “Don’t Cry” is about a recently widowed woman who goes to Ethiopia, accompanying a friend who wants to adopt a child. Gaitskill is very skilled at drawing places, and she likes to weave inner and outer landscapes together.

Often she also strings different time-lines together, and sometimes this can be muddling. Usually, it’s pretty clear, and you flow along with a person’s consciousness as it moves freely from past to present, fro...more
Scott Foley
In Don't Cry, Mary Gaitskill presents ten short stories that are sometimes literally connected and sometimes thematically related. Some of these stories are firmly entrenched within the real world, and some, while taking place within the real world, dabble with the metaphorical and metaphysical plane as well. Each of them investigates complex human emotions and Gaitskill proves she is not afraid to tackle any issue.

Gaitskill is a very skilled writer; I have no doubt of that. Her stories were fin...more
Jacqui
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Memorable Quotes
Folk Song
"Safe in her sweating, loose, and very wet embrace, surrounded by the dense energy of many men, his penis could tell her the secret story of murder right in front of everyone. Her worn vagina would hold the killer like it had held the husband and the lover and the sharpie and the father and the nitwit and every other man, his terrible story a tiny, burning star in the right-ful firmament of her female vastness."

"They want heaven and they will go to hell to get there."
...more
Ikè
From a review I wrote over a year ago:

I didn’t want to look at reviews when I began reading Don’t Cry, a collection of short-stories by the writer, Mary Gaitskill. I didn’t know anything about her, less of all, what she’d written, and first heard of her when a friend invited me to a book reading by CCNY’s English Department. The guest reader, she said, was the writer of “Secretary”—the short-story on which the film was based (here, I thought dimly of a desk, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and a horse).

I thi...more
C
I read this because I thought "Veronica" was fantastic. This book was a little *too* fantastic (those of you who know me know my distaste for magical realism-- and the story about the shining souls was like a great song that was awesome for the 3 minutes--and then drags its guiding metaphor out for another 3). What is great about Gaitskill is the way her prose dances around the distinctions between pornography/art, desire/dysfunction, fiction/memoir, etc. The NY Times blurb printed on the back c...more
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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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Bad Behavior Veronica Because They Wanted To Two Girls, Fat and Thin Best New American Voices 2009

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