Don't Cry: Book summary and reviews of Don't Cry by Mary Gaitskill

Don't Cry

By Mary Gaitskill

Don't Cry
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2009,
    240 pages.

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Book Summary

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-night stand; in “The Little Boy,” a woman haunted by the death of her former husband is finally able to grieve through a mysterious encounter with a needy child; and in “The Arms and Legs of the Lake,” the fallout of the Iraq war becomes disturbingly real for the disparate passengers on a train going up the Hudson--three veterans, a liberal editor, a soldier’s uncle, and honeymooners on their way to Niagara Falls.

Each story delivers the powerful, original language, and the dramatic engagement of the intelligent mind with the craving body--or of the intelligent body with the craving mind--that is characteristic of Gaitskill’s fiction. As intense as Bad Behavior, her first collection of stories, Don’t Cry reflects the profound enrichment of life experience. As the stories unfold against the backdrop of American life over the last thirty years, they describe how our social conscience has evolved while basic human truths--“the crude cinder blocks of male and female down in the basement, holding up the house,” as one character puts it--remain unchanged.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. While this collection won't be every reader's cup of tea, the author's exquisite use of language and metaphor is enough to recommend it for all libraries with a serious literary bent." - Library Journal.

"There's too much insider writing-program stuff, and a few pieces fall flat, but Gaitskill has a rare talent for uncovering, with a near-impossible combination of compassion and pitilessness, what lies beneath the surfaces we work hard to make placid. Another accomplished collection from an American original." - Kirkus Reviews.

"A grab bag of 10 stories spotlight the writhing of Gaitskill’s listless characters within unloving landscapes." - Publishers Weekly.

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Author Information

Mary Gaitskill Author Biography

Photo: Judy Axenson

Mary Gaitskills works include the Collection, Because They Wanted To, which was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1998 and the novels, Bad Behavior (1988), Two Girls, Fat and Thin (1991) Veronica (2005), and Don't Cry (2009). Her stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, Esquire, The Best American Short Stories (1993), and The O. Henry Prize Stories (1998). Her story Secretary was the basis for the film of the same name. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, she teaches creative writing at Syracuse University. She lives in New York.

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  • Veronica jacket
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