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Because They Wanted To


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A collection of startling and breathtaking stories about people struggling with the disparity between what they want and what they know.

A New York Times Notable Book

A man tells a story to a woman sitting beside him on a plane, little suspecting what it reveals about his capacity for cruelty and contempt. A callow runaway girl is stranded in a strange city with another woman’s fractiously needy children. An uncomprehending father helplessly lashes out at the daughter he both loves and resents. In these raw, startling, and incandescently lovely stories, the author of Veronica yields twelve indelible portraits of people struggling with the disparity between what they want and what they know. Because They Wanted To is further evidence that Gaitskill is one of the fiercest, funniest, and most subversively compassionate writers at work today.

Publishers Weekly Review

Dec 30, 1996 – In "The Dentist," a story about a magazine writer's sexual infatuation with her bland, middle-aged dentist, a billboard for Obsession perfume looms over the protagonist's neighborhood, projecting a "strange arrested sensuality of unsatisfied want." Like that billboard, the nine stories in Gaitskill's third book (after the novel, Two Girls, Fat and Thin) hold a mirror up to a 30-something zeitgeist of emotional dysfunction, chronicling people paralyzed by unappeasable desires and trapped by abusive families and relationships. The landscape is a familiar one--of support groups and public health clinics, funky neighborhoods in the Pacific Northwest and lower Manhattan inhabited by writers, musicians and sex workers. With her crisp prose and withering eye for detail, Gaitskill invests these scenes with psychological vividness and desolate poignancy. The title story is a portrait of a resilient 16-year-old who runs away from home in the wake of her parent's divorce and takes a job in Vancouver babysitting for a financially desperate mother of three. The disgruntled protagonist of the opening story, "Tiny, Smiling Daddy," disturbed that his estranged lesbian daughter has published a self-help essay about him in a national magazine, ponders the divide between parents and children. In the four-part final story, "The Wrong Thing," a 39-year-old poetry teacher tries to remain stoic in the face of a series of erotic but loveless flings. It's telling that Gaitskill's title is an unfinished sentence, for the theme that binds these stories together is an emotional modality shared by a cast of unhappy people, whose sordid fantasy lives and small gestures of compassion allow them to keep at bay the meaninglessness and despair of the everyday.
Because They Wanted To
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Short Stories
  • Published: Mar 13, 2012
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Seller: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.
  • Print Length: 256 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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