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Veronica Paperback – July 18, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Gaitskill begins her bittersweet novel of the friendship between fashion model Alison and the older HIV+ Veronica (whose looks and habits are totally alien to Alison's stylish world) years later when Alison is older and feeling her body slowly decay. While the book follows Alison's younger self as she prances about Paris catwalks and New York nightclubs, the knowledge that she ends up lonely and broken-spirited casts a pall over the telling of those glittering earlier days. Mazur plays on this well, giving Alison a weary yet wistful tone that conveys the weight of her self-loathing. For Veronica's lines, she skillfully alters her voice to be the "bitterly inflected instrument" Gaitskill describes: nasal, almost braying, but direct and honest in contrast to the timidity and insincerity of Alison's words. The narration can be disorienting as it slips from grim present to various points in the past, but that works to the story's advantage, making all the perspectives bleed together, infusing the whole with sadness. Bleak but compelling, the book affords listeners a wonderfully nuanced glimpse inside a damaged psyche.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
From The New Yorker
Gaitskill's second novel is narrated over the course of a single day by an ailing former fashion model named Alison, now cleaning offices for a living, who ruminates on her glamorous youth and on her friendship with an older woman who died of AIDS. Her recollections range through the bohemian San Francisco of the late nineteen-seventies, the fashion worlds of Paris and New York in the eighties, and her family's claustrophobic but comforting home in suburban New Jersey. Gaitskill's distinctive prose often traverses decades and continents in a single paragraph, in a way that is more montage than narrative. When this ambitious approach succeeds, it yields startling revelations; when it doesn't quite come off, the result is a pleasant muddle. Recalling San Francisco prostitutes, Alison says, "Most of them weren't beautiful girls, but they had a special luster." An analogous allure pervades this book.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top customer reviews
I liked the story itself. A young girl who becomes a model tries to navigate the 1980's glam fashion scene. She is constantly surrounded by men who want to take advantage of her, but she also seems pretty willing to trade out her body for their favors. In the meantime, she strikes up an unlikely friendship with a woman who eventually dies of AIDS and eventually becomes the woman's only friend. The parts of the book involving the friendship felt the most honest to me and also made Alison a more sympathetic character.
My last comment is that the ending felt rushed. The author spent page after page describing Alison's walk to a bus stop, then her walk in the woods but totally glossed over her life changing car accident, how she became infected with hepatitis and her decline from modeling to cleaning the office of a former admirer. I would have liked to hear more on that versus a lengthy description of a picnic Veronica and Duncan had or a non-related story about her neighbor swimming in a dirty canal.