the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

On Gaitskill’s portraits of the interior

Posted by rigorousm on November 2, 2015

Gaitskill isn’t scary because she conjures monsters; monsters, she points out, are almost always in fashion. What makes her scary, and what makes her exciting, is her ability to evoke the hidden life, the life unseen, the life we don’t even know we are living. The critic Greil Marcus, a champion of her work, calls her a descendant of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne ‘‘is aware of the hidden chambers in the heart,’’ he told me. ‘‘He is aware that there are things that people won’t talk about and there are things that people can’t talk about — and those aren’t the same things. He wants to reveal all those layers.’’ Gaitskill’s fiction unfolds in these psychological spaces; she knows that we, unlike plants, don’t always grow toward the light, that sometimes we cannot even be coaxed toward it.

— “Mary Gaitskill and the Life Unseen,” Parul Sehgal for The New York Times (x).

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