Greg's Reviews > Don't Cry

Don't Cry by Mary Gaitskill
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bookshelves: fiction, short-stories, girls-girls-girls

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 fact, and maybe if I had read these stories in Edith Wharton's time the shockingness of the black hole of mystery that is a cooter would have made me go into a convulsion of some sort, or maybe if I had read this as a woman in the sixties I could have rallied around the vagina-ness of all womenkind, but by 2009 it's not that shocking nor mysterious. So that's disappointment one, I wasn't enjoying the book.

About 2/3's through the book I already started formulating some review ideas in my head. I was ready to tear this apart. I dreaded having to slosh through another 1/3 of the book, but I was ready to do it, just to be angered more. Instead here comes disappointment two. The third to last story is actually really good. What the fuck? No mysterious vaginas, no dime store versions of Levinas' theory of The Other / the face of The Other turned into some silly Feminist thing that held no water what so ever. No characters just blurting out things like, "My ex-boyfriend fucked me in the ass," and then spend a half a page ridiculing people who find comments like that to be uncomfortable as prudes (what to think of the reader who feels uncomfortable for a writer who thinks something like this is shocking, or gritty, or real), and also no Eggers like ironic distancing of oneself from the faults already showing in earlier stories through a separate story. None of those things. Instead a very good story. And then that story was followed up with two not quite as good stories, but still quite good ones. What the fuck. I couldn't even hate the book in peace, instead it had to end with three solid stories that were enjoyable, and if I hadn't had to read the first 2/3's of the book, I'd consider Gaitskill as a writer I should check out and read more of. Instead I'm left with a weird feeling of indifference, not knowing if the last three were a fluke or maybe signs of what her newer / more mature work is like. I guess the only way to find out is to read more of her books, but I don't know if I want to deliberately set myself up for more disappointments.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
March 24, 2009 – Shelved
March 24, 2009 – Shelved as: fiction
March 24, 2009 – Shelved as: short-stories
March 24, 2009 – Finished Reading
May 3, 2012 – Shelved as: girls-girls-girls

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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The Crimson Fucker So you basically saying that this book is like an episode of Opie and Antony at the beginning But at the end is more like a Woody Allen movie??

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Well, I clicked on the author's name to see what else she wrote, and apparently she wrote "Bleak House" by Charles Dickens. I'd go with that one, next.

Jasmine the nation was not so impressed with this book

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