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Saturday May 27, 2017
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Mary Gaitskill

 

continued

Alison Owen, the narrator of Veronica, is a troubled runaway, who left home both because she hated it and because it was the thing to do. She stumbles through the fashionable cities of her era, starting with selling flowers in front of strip joints in San Francisco. She becomes a temp worker in New York, an exploited fashion model in Paris, and a nameless actress in music videos in L.A. She revels in the flashy beauty of the moment, defining herself and everyone she meets by its lavishly ephemeral standards. She has a string of lovers who treat her with various degrees of kindness or disdain, but she also eventually befriends Veronica, an older woman, dying of AIDS, who is abrasive, worn, and belligerently unfashionable. That improbable friendship becomes redemptive:



I sank down into darkness and lived among demons for a long, long time. I became one of them. . . . I was saved by another demon, who looked on me with pity and so became human again. And because I pitied her in turn, I was allowed to become human, too.

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