Amazon Best of the Month, March 2009: Mary Gaitskill has a reputation as the chronicler of bad relationships, but that label doesn't do justice to the stories she tells. Her relationships turn bad, or turn good, or just turn (and turn and turn). In every exploitation there's an attraction, or at least an accommodation; in every hostility there's a yearning for, or at least a memory of, connection. You see the intensity of people--friends and family as well as lovers--drawn together, and the often equally intense emptiness when the magnet flips and repels. Gaitskill is one of our best short story writers (that's a label that's fully just) and the prickly, sad brilliance of her last book, Veronica, confirmed her as a master of the novel, too. Don't Cry is just her third story collection in 20 years, after the modern classics Bad Behavior and Because They Wanted To, and it reminds you immediately of why you've been longing to read her again. Once more, there are former lovers and ex-friends and parents and children who have not quite made a hash of things, but there's also a broadening in this collection, especially in the title story, which looks at the ties of family and friendship when they are stretched across the global distance of privilege and poverty. --Tom Nissley
Ranging from gritty realism to fanciful allegory, the stories in Don’t Cry push the boundaries of fiction in several directions. Populated by peculiar but always authentic characters with bizarre dreams and fantasies, Gaitskill’s stories lack conventional plots, timelines, and mounting suspense, but she keeps readers rapt with the promise of exposing the darkest recesses of human nature. The subtle balance between her spare, clinical prose and the uncomfortably private thoughts and feelings she brings to light give these stories their edge; yet intermittent moments of grace and hope keep her work accessible. Though critics disagreed over which stories were the best, they all praised her pitiless eye, psychological insight, and unsettling ability to turn readers into voyeurs.
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