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Don't Cry (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – March 9, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (March 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307275876
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307275875
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #258,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A New York Times Notable Books

“A mindsearing, soul-rattling, gratitude-inducing collection.”
O, The Oprah Magazine
 
“Gaitskill writes with visceral power. . . . She commands her readers’ attention as few fiction writers can.”
—Kathryn Harrison, The New York Times Book Review
 
“Masterful. . . . Past, present, future; heartbreak, desire, and loss—none of it is quite beyond her. Gaitskill’s prose glides lightly over unsoundable depths.”
The Village Voice
 
“Exquisite. . . . Gaitskill never stops at surfaces. . . . She believes—maybe reluctantly—in the absolute primacy of human connections, no matter what mess we tend to make of them.”
The Chicago Tribune
 
“Intense and thought-provoking, compelling and often tragic, yet filled with a subtle magic. . . . Gaitskill explores the spectrum of emotion: lust, greed, sorrow, hope, anger and many forms of love.”
Los Angeles Times
 
“Gaitskill is a fiercely emphatic writer—her concern always how close we can get to the pith of a protagonist or relationship—and Don’t Cry is wonderfully Machiavellian in its excavation of character.”
San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Evocative yet efficient descriptions that remind you why you read in the first place. . . . Gaitskill never loses sight of her ambition to claim her readers’ hearts. . . . With unpretentious yet heartbreaking lines. . . . Gaitskill owns you, and earns the right to put you through the ringer of vulgarity.”
Newsweek
 
“Gaitskill’s short stories, with remarkably little prologue, routinely go far down and in deep. . . . She is, to be sure, one of the great living American fiction writers.”
The Buffalo News
 
“Gaitskill seems to have traveled through a lifetime of perception, moving in a progression from raw and violently sexualized to tender and regretful, with every character knowing the intimacy and exhaustion of sorrow.”
The Boston Globe
 
“Mary Gaitskill understands people. She doesn’t patronize and she doesn’t condemn. She simply focuses her insight into their characters, with rock-hard sympathy and beautiful prose.”
The Sunday Oregonian
 
“If Don’t Cry finds Gaitskill older and wiser, it proves she’s lost none of the honesty and inventiveness. On the contrary, maturity suits her well.”
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
 
 “Savagely intelligent tales. . . . Gaitskill has consistently plumbed the farther reaches of psychic extremis with power and passion.”
Elle
 
“Gaitskill continues to deliver sharply defined visions of everyday lives that also manage to hum with a mysterious subconscious feedback.”
Time Out New York
 
“A deeply compassionate book. . . . Brave and even majestic. . . . In adult life we put things safely in categories. Gaitskill doesn’t; won’t. This is her project throughout the book: to remind us that people’s experience ought not to be gainsaid. Experience ought to be explored and revealed. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”
Slate
 
“For all of Gaitskill’s rough perspective on the world, she doesn’t shield her heart from view. . . . [There’s] a thread of poignancy and real warmth that keeps her work from becoming inaccessible.”
The Miami Herald
 
“Gaitskill knows how to pull open the trap door beneath the reader’s feet, so that we drop from clever, supercilious dialogue and elegant description to something deeper. . . . She finds words for intimacy at its most inarticulate, in stories that jolt, seduce and disturb.”
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
 
“Gaitskill’s characters have never listened very well, and these stories are strewn with the wreckage of lost opportunities and broken lives that result invariably. [But] Don’t Cry moves beyond showing us the spilled milk to ask why it’s on the floor—and whether, next time, things might be different.”
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
 
“A gathering of fiercely observed portraits of cultural unease, from the Reagan years to the early days of the Iraq War.” —Vogue
 
“Gaitskill’s m.o. is to follow her creations wherever they go—to places she didn’t anticipate and may not full understand. She’s ravenous for complexity.”
—Bloomberg News
 
“Gaitskill takes up themes of yearning, grief and emotional vulnerability that will be familiar to her readers, but, this time, she imagines a broader landscape, rife with political turmoil. Gaitskill’s emotional landscape is broader, too, and delicately nuanced. . . . Trust and shelter, recognition of one soul by another: In Gaitskill’s world, these gifts—fragile, ephemeral, hard won—count as happiness.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune
 
Don’t Cry takes its place among artworks of great moral seriousness.”
BOMB Magazine
 
“Gaitskill is no coward. Comfort is more or less beyond the question here. Yet possibility lurks in every interstice. . . . Once again she plays with time, sliding past and present onto the same string like the beads of a darkly gorgeous necklace.”
The Cleveland Plain Dealer

About the Author

Mary Gaitskill is also the author of Because They Wanted To (nominated for a PEN/Faulkner Award) and the novel Two Girls, Fat and Thin. Veronica was nominated for the National Book Award. Gaitskill is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, The Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. She lives in New York.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By margot on May 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Mary Gaitskill's misfortune is to be the only Mary Gaitskill working the street. I mean she's alone out there, with her odd vision and idiom, not part of any tradition or school. Her narrative line is unpredictable, which can be very trying on the reader.

It is probably even more trying on the writer. Here is Gaitskill, marching on through the jungle, making her own way, with no one before her or beside her. No wonder both she and her characters always seem lost and despairing. Critics aren't an awful lot of help to her; they lazily slot her as wilfully perverse, when all she does is paint what she sees. If she positioned herself as a memoirist or social critic or writer of romantic fiction, she'd have an easier time of it.

Most of the stories here struck me as unfinished and confused in their direction. One exception, "The Arms and Legs of the Lake," is a near-perfect gem, but even so, it is experimental in technique and difficult to read simply as a short story. Basically, eight or ten characters are introduced and interact in the course of a train journey. None of them are given any description by the narrator; all exposition is given from the various characters' points of view. There is a central character with the appropriately anonymous name of Jim Smith, and we quickly learn he is a recent Iraq veteran. Most readers will immediately form a mental image of him, an image that will become more and more wrong as the story progresses. He is a slight black man on the verge of middle-age, perhaps a little crazy, perhaps feebleminded. The other characters project upon him their admiration or pity or contempt, and then make biased and critical judgments of each other.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Annaconda on June 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've really enjoyed Mary Gaitskill's other work. The perspectives in Don't Cry, however, are much too negative for me. It seems that every woman in every story gets robbed of something precious when she engages sexually with a partner. While I found other women in Gaitskill's fiction interesting and powerful, the tone here was simply too dreary. The stories seemed redundant and I didn't finish the entire collection for fear of either jumping out the window or denouncing men for all eternity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Annie on September 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
Mary Gaitskill is a talented writer, and these stories carry surprising revelations at every turn. She is attuned to the details of the way woman think of themselves, how we behave and judge ourselves according to the way society thinks we should behave, and then highlighting the contrast. She writes about real women, real human beings, not glib stereotypes. She is the real deal.
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By V. Irene Vega on March 11, 2013
Format: Paperback
I read somewhere that this was a book of stories about disaffected people. It's true, it is. The people in this book have problems and sometimes you want to scream at them, sometimes you want to smash yourself upside the head, sometimes you want to weep. These are real people and they affect you to the bone, to the soul.

And the stream of words that come out of Mary Gaitskill's imagination onto the printed page is literature at its very best, literature that explores the darker side of human relationships, that side where we don't want to go. It's not us she's writing about. But it is. We know it, we just can't admit it.
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Format: Paperback
From the powerful pen of Mary Gaitskill comes DON'T CRY, her first collection of short stories in more than a decade. The tales here are intense and thought-provoking, compelling and often tragic, yet filled with a subtle magic. In just 10 stories Gaitskill explores the spectrum of emotion: lust, greed, sorrow, hope, anger and many forms of love.

The opening story, "College Town 1980" follows a group of disaffected young people in Ann Arbor and centers on the slightly older Dolores, who suffers from mental illness. She lives with her younger brother, who's a charming musician, and his strange girlfriend. Dolores spends her days antagonizing waitresses and slowly working on a degree. While there is not much action in the story, there are changes in Dolores as she tries once again to navigate in society and find comfort and strength. Like many of the characters here, Dolores is disconnected --- from herself and from society around her. Gaitskill seems to suggest that this lack of connection may in fact be the norm.

"The Agonized Face" is a similar character study. Here the first person narrator is at a literary festival, covering the event as a journalist, observing the writers and figures around her. She is at once drawn to and repelled by the "feminist author" who she hears speak and who reads from her new book. In silently demanding something particular from the author, and from each writer there, she reveals more of herself, her desires and her worldview.

All of these stories allow readers to join the characters at interesting, though not always obvious, emotional turning points.
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