The Devil's Treasure by Mary Gaitskill


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"Gaitskill is something special. She doesn't grandstand; she lacks self-pity. She has an intuitive sympathy for people acting on their worst impulses and a gift for portraying cruelty without condemnation. She manages to be an erotic writer without being, precisely, a sex writer." - Emily Nussbaum, New York Magazine

"What is in the bag behind the Devil's chair? Knowledge of some kind? Surely something a little girl did not know should be left alone. I've been criticized-- and sometimes admired--for what some readers see as my affinity with cruelty, both in my depictions of it and my supposed infliction of it on characters."

In The Devil's Treasure--aptly subtitled A Book of Stories and Dreams--the iconic author Mary Gaitskill has created a chimerical hybrid of fiction, memoir, essay, criticism, and visual art that transcends categorization. This collage of four novels (one a work in progress), interspersed with and thematically linked by a single short story, then woven together with the author's commentary, is a kind of director's cut revealing the personal and societal forces that inform each individual piece of work, an ongoing, passionate exploration of core human emotions and experience, the ideally, sometimes quixotically high and grossly, confusedly low. With the stylistic daring and preternatural acuity that has made her one of America's most original writers, Gaitskill has created a layered vision of modern life that simultaneously blends the huge prehistoric creatures that swim at the bottom of our collective ocean with a family that picnics on the beach while a podcast natters about politics and a perhaps dangerously curious child explores the lapping waves.

"Devotees of Gaitskill's work are likely to appreciate the opportunity to revisit her masterworks on something of a guided tour where the author herself is able to instruct us... This impressionistic construction rewards those looking for a deeper connection to Gaitskill's rigorous imagination." - Kirkus Review