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Don't Cry

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  1,287 ratings  ·  203 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.

Beginning with a story of young people adrift in the college town of Ann Arbor on the cusp of the Reagan era and ending with the complex quest of a middle-aged woman to adopt a child in Addis Ababa, Gaitskill works a
Hardcover, 226 pages
Published March 24th 2009 by Pantheon Books
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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Paul Bryant
Jul 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
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
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
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
the first six stories are a miracle.
Oct 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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'
Feb 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: august-2019, borrowed
Mary Gaitskill's short story collection, Don't Cry, was first published in the USA in 2009, and in the United Kingdom in 2017.  Gaitskill was not an author whom I had read before, but I'd heard such great things about her writing, and consequently picked up Don't Cry when browsing in my local library.

Described as 'full of jagged, lived emotion and powerful, incisive writing', I was certainly intrigued by this collection, which is made up of ten stories.  Gaitskill's opening sentences are often q

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.


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
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
Apr 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: in-2k9, short-stories
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
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Only one of the stories, "Description," was really good. I appreciated some of these and they are different from a lot of her earlier stories.

Ok just reread two years later and liked it a lot more. I appreciate so much of her writing, basically all of it I’ve read. Images that will stay with me forever. The intelligence and compassion to go beyond what is easy or easily digestible...
Jan 31, 2009 rated it it was ok
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.
Apr 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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 Chandler
Jul 09, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Apr 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american
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
Feb 09, 2010 rated it did not like it
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.
Mar 23, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Oct 19, 2008 marked it as to-read
Gosh, well, I never really considered reading her, but Imogen can be pretty convincing.... ...more
May 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-09
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.
patty ramona
Jul 07, 2009 rated it liked it
I've read all of her other for the latest...will it be any good?!?
K8 Feets
Jul 31, 2020 rated it liked it
Gaitskill's writing style is one that really challenges you. She bravely takes on many often overlooked elements indicative of the unconscious injury that simply is the experience of being female, weaves these collective traumas into masterfully unique metaphors that sometimes go on for paragraphs or longer. She has a remarkable insight into the human psyche and her prose is exquisitely beautiful. I also appreciate the bleakness and gritty realism of her characters. These aren't nice, or easy pe ...more
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
The characters are believable. The plots vary, between mostly young women who grow and are now looking back to their younger selves to the final two stories that are actually entwined with one another. One of the stories is from the perspective of two young men, who are completing their graduate writing program and both somehow involved with their female mentor. The second a descriptor of the female mentor, looking back on her marriage to an older man, who has recently passed. Her possible react ...more
Allan MacDonell
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The ten stories in Mary Gaitskill’s Don’t Cry seem to be constructed in a more formal manner than, for instance, those in the Bad Behavior collection. I can’t be sure though. The author’s omniscience does read as solidly objective in the sliding views of Don’t Cry’s narrators. Then again, I don’t identify absolutely with the characters in Bad Behavior, like I do with the “monsters” (Gaitskill’s term) in Bad Behavior or Veronica. That remove might be allowing me to hang back and admire the craft ...more
Katie Coleman
Apr 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Loved “The Agonized Face,” and maybe also the title story, “Don’t Cry.” Did not love “Mirror Ball” or “The Little Boy.” All the others fell somewhere in between for me. While Gaitskill is undoubtedly a skilled writer capable of exposing the most hidden, unsavory or universally humane in her characters consciousness, I felt almost unconvinced at times. I could read her sentences forever but I couldn’t always follow the story. Probably my problem not Gaitskill’s. For an intro to her work, I might ...more
Tempe Public Library
I found this book at the library on a book display. “A book of short stories. Why not?” I remember thinking. I took it to my English class and my instructor saw me reading it. Nothing ever impressed this person, let’s just say that. “Mary Gaistkill?” he asked. “She’s a great writer.” I was about halfway through the book and I loved every story. Her writing might make you think about something differently. Or, take it to class. It might impress your English teacher.
Sana Burton
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
DNF at 140 pages of so. I think I would maybe have liked these stories more of I'd found them individually, but as a collective I find I just don't care enough. They all kind of blur into eachother, and the writing style makes it a bit boring to read. I feel like Mary Gaitskill writes for people who think they're smarter than they are tbh.
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautiful, precise and technical. Great collection. I like the last few stories a little less, but overall it was just one big fest. Reminded me of Alice Munro in how technically rich it is, but this is based more on hard switches and fragments bleeding together. Also more dark.
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
The ten short stories here are a mixed bag. But at their best they are excellent, though more on a cerebral than an emotional level. Her style is sometimes quite challenging (a signature move is to switch POV and/or narrators without warning), but always incisive and often devastating.
Sam Glatt
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly extraordinary, maybe even better and more accomplished than BAD BEHAVIOR. Mary Gaitskill's sentences cut like broken glass. "Mirror Ball" might now be my favorite short story of all-time, and Gaitskill is well on her way to becoming my favorite writer of all-time.
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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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