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Showing results by Mary Gaitskill only

At this moment I feel obliged to acknowledge a part of life that’s not subject to fantasies or projections and doesn’t care about how anyone sees it. I’m reading from a book of Simone Weil’s letters, Waiting for God. It was introduced by Leslie Fiedler, and he says something that I like very much:

This world is the only reality available to us, and if we do not love it in all its terror, we are sure to end up loving the “imaginary,” our own dreams and self-deceits, the Utopias of the politicians, or the futile promises of future reward and consolation which the misled blasphemously call “religion.” The soul has a million dodges for protecting itself against the acceptance and love of the emptiness, that “maximum distance between God and God,” which is the universe; for the price of such acceptance and love is abysmal misery. And yet it is the only way.

—p.215 Mary Gaitskill and Matthew Sharpe (207) by Mary Gaitskill 4 years, 4 months ago

JOEY FELT THAT his romance with Daisy might ruin his life, but that didn’t stop him. He liked the idea in fact. It had been a long time since he’d felt his life was in danger of further ruin, and it was fun to think it was still possible.

—p.10 Daisy’s Valentine (9) by Mary Gaitskill 1 year ago

Daisy had never been to an opera. “Will there be people in breastplates and headdresses with horns?” she asked. “Will there be a papier-mâché dragon and things flying through the air?” She looked hard at the curtained stage.

“Probably not,” he said. “I think this production is coming from a German Impressionist influence, which means they’ll eschew costumes and scenery as much as possible. They’re coming from an emphasis on symbolism and minimal design. It was a reaction against the earlier period when—”

“I want to see a dragon flying through the air.” She took a pink mint from the box of opera mints he’d bought, popped it into her mouth and audibly sucked it. She shifted it to her cheek and asked, “Why do you like the opera?”

oof this hurts

—p.24 Daisy’s Valentine (9) by Mary Gaitskill 1 year ago

SHE WAS MEETING a man she had recently and abruptly fallen in love with. She was in a state of ghastly anxiety. He was married, for one thing, to a Korean woman whom he described as the embodiment of all that was feminine and elegant. Not only that, but a psychic had told her that a relationship with him could cripple her emotionally for the rest of her life. On top of this, she was tormented by the feeling that she looked inadequate. Perhaps her body tilted too far forward as she walked, perhaps her jacket made her torso look bulky in contrast to her calves and ankles, which were probably skinny. She felt like an object unraveling in every direction. In anticipation of their meeting, she had not been able to sleep the night before; she had therefore eaten some amphetamines and these had heightened her feeling of disintegration.

—p.32 A Romantic Weekend (31) by Mary Gaitskill 1 year ago

He had met her at a party during the previous week. She immediately reminded him of a girl he had known years before, Sharon, a painfully serious girl with a pale, gentle face whom he had tormented off and on for two years before leaving for his wife. Although it had gratified him enormously to leave her, he had missed hurting her for years, and had been half-consciously looking for another woman with a similarly fatal combination of pride, weakness and a foolish lust for something resembling passion. On meeting Beth, he was astonished at how much she looked, talked and moved like his former victim. She was delicately morbid in all her gestures, sensitive, arrogant, vulnerable to flattery. She veered between extravagant outbursts of opinion and sudden, uncertain halts, during which she seemed to look to him for approval. She was in love with the idea of intelligence, and she overestimated her own. Her sense of the world, though she presented it aggressively, could be, he sensed, snatched out from under her with little or no trouble. She said, “I hope you are a savage.”

—p.33 A Romantic Weekend (31) by Mary Gaitskill 1 year ago

He thought: There is something wrong. Her passivity was pleasing, as was her silence and her willingness to place herself in his hands. But he sensed another element present in her that he could not define and did not like. Her tightly folded hands were nervous and repulsive. Her public posture was brittle, not pliant. There was a rigidity that if cracked would yield nothing. He was disconcerted to realize that he didn’t know if he could crack it anyway. He began to feel uncomfortable. Perhaps the weekend would be a disaster.

—p.36 A Romantic Weekend (31) by Mary Gaitskill 1 year ago

They spent some moments regarding the people around them. They were short on material. There were only a few customers in the bar; most of them were men in suits who sat there seemingly enmeshed in a web of habit and accumulated rancor that they called their personalities, so utterly unaware of their entanglement that they clearly considered themselves men of the world, even though they had long ago stopped noticing it. Then a couple walked through the door, carrying luggage. The woman’s bright skirt flashed with each step. The man walked ahead of her. He walked too fast for her to keep up. She looked harried. Her eyes were wide and dark and clotted with makeup; there was a mole on her chin. He paused, as though considering whether he would stop for a drink. He decided not to and strode again. Her earrings jiggled as she followed. They left a faint trail of sex and disappointment behind them.

—p.37 A Romantic Weekend (31) by Mary Gaitskill 1 year ago

She was struck dumb with frustration. She had obviously disappointed him in some fundamental way, which she felt was completely due to misunderstanding. If only she could think of the correct thing to say, she was sure she could clear it up. The blue puffball thing unfurled itself before her with sickening power. It was the same image of him holding her and gazing into her eyes with bone-dislodging intent, thinly veiling the many shattering events that she anticipated between them. The prospect made her disoriented with pleasure. The only problem was, this image seemed to have no connection with what was happening now. She tried to think back to the time they had spent in her apartment, when he had held her and said, “You’re cute.” What had happened between then and now to so disappoint him?

She hadn’t yet noticed how much he had disappointed her.

—p.39 A Romantic Weekend (31) by Mary Gaitskill 1 year ago

“Do you think you could improve your attitude about this whole thing? You might try being a little more positive.”

Coming from him, this question was preposterous. He must be so pathologically insecure that his perception of his own behavior was thoroughly distorted. He saw rejection everywhere, she decided; she must reassure him. “But I do feel positive about being here,” she said. She paused, searching for the best way to express the extremity of her positive feelings. She invisibly implored him to see and mount their blue puffball bed. “It would be impossible for you to disappoint me. The whole idea of you makes me happy. Anything you do will be all right.”

Her generosity unnerved him. He wondered if she realized what she was saying. “Does anybody know you’re here?” he asked. “Did you tell anyone where you were going?”

not good

—p.40 A Romantic Weekend (31) by Mary Gaitskill 1 year ago

[...] He realized what had been disturbing him about her. With other women whom he had been with in similar situations, he had experienced a relaxing sense of emptiness within them that had made it easy for him to get inside them and, once there, smear himself all over their innermost territory until it was no longer theirs but his. His wife did not have this empty quality, yet the gracious way in which she emptied herself for him made her submission, as far as it went, all the more poignant. This exasperating girl, on the other hand, contained a tangible somethingness that she not only refused to expunge, but that seemed to willfully expand itself so that he banged into it with every attempt to invade her. He didn’t mind the somethingness; he rather liked it, in fact, and had looked forward to seeing it demolished. But she refused to let him do it. Why had she told him she was a masochist? He looked at her body. Her limbs were muscular and alert. He considered taking her by the neck and bashing her head against the floor.

—p.41 A Romantic Weekend (31) by Mary Gaitskill 1 year ago

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