Ciara's Reviews > Veronica

Veronica by Mary Gaitskill
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's review
Nov 04, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: feminist-y-books, especially-great-novels, read-in-2007
Recommended for: mary gaitskill fans, former models, HIV/AIDS advocates, people who partied in the 80s
Read in February, 2007 , read count: once

let's see if i remember this properly: the titular veronica is a friend of the narrator. the narrator is a character herself. she got into modeling as a teenager & was very successful. she had a lot of jet-set excitement, dabbling in drugs & various rock stars, but beauty fades, especially when you spend the 80s on a non-stop coke binge. eventually she moves back to new jersey & takes a dead-end clerical job, where she meets veronica, a co-worker. veronica is a good ten years older than the narrator & wears those silly sweaters with three-deminsional xmas trees & shit on them, but she has a really big personality that appeals to the narrator, who seems a bit wounded after her whirlwind modeling-drugs-sex heyday. being friends with veronica means letting someone else take the reins. & so they become friends, in that way where you sometimes become friends with a co-worker that you would probably never talk to in any other capacity, but you're thrown together eight hours a day & start building a friendship. eventually, the narrator learns that veronica has kind of been living a lie. her live-in boyfriend is actually bisexual & regularly cheats on her with men, which she either pretends not to know, or doesn't really care about. he contracts HIV & passes it on to her. veronica is reluctant to tell the narrator, lest the friendship end because of it, but eventually she has to because she starts getting really sick. the narrator surprises both veronica & herself by devoting herself to caring for veronica while she is dying. all of this is told through a series of flashbacks, because the narrator now lives in italy or somewhere, working as a housekeeper for a painter or some ridiculous shit. i can't say i was in love with this book. it was a little too janet finch-y for me, & i am not wild about janet finch. what i mean is, it kind of tried too hard to evoke this air of glamour, mystique, etc, & then to tarnish it with the harsh light of reality. i appreciate the sentiment, but all the gloss & bauble is fun to read about in the moment but it doesn't really stick with me after i'm done reading. for the record, mary gaitskill also wrote the short story that the movie "secretary" is based on (though her story is very different). if that intrigues you, maybe it will sweeten your tae on this review.
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