This impressive but uneven novel by the author of the praised short fiction collection Bad Behavior makes promises it does not keep. Two women, totally unalike in background, personality and social class, are brought together by a shared fascination with the philosophical movement founded by the late Anna Granite (read Ayn Rand). Justine is a chic journalist who wants to write an article about the followers of Granite's philosophy, Definitism. Dorothy is an obese, nocturnal word processor who answers Justine's advertisement in Manhattan Thing and offers to be interviewed about her involvement with the Definitists. As the two women come to know each other, their dismal life experiences gradually emerge, and their present circumstances are seen as a repetition of past connections and betrayals. This is a hard, edgy book, and Gaitskill's energy and flashy intelligence notwithstanding, the perhaps deliberate lack of polish ultimately detracts. The novel's raw, unsparing view is like that of certain contemporary paintings, and there are extraordinary moments of deeply examined female sexuality where Gaitskill is at her most original. But an underdeveloped and fragmented style has not served her well with the narrative and structural demands here. Thus this distinctive novel falls short of its potential. Major ad/promo; author tour. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/04/1991 Release date: 02/01/1991 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.