I am not sure why this book is entitled Veronica. This book isn’t really about her. It’s about how Alison, the narrator, wins and loses at modeling twice while looking down on others for their lack of style and beauty only to end up losing that for herself as the result of a car accident. Veronica is a woman she is embarrassed to be seen with by any of her traditional friends. She does not understand Veronica, a middle-aged woman who contracts AIDS from her bi-sexual partner. Although Alison never admits as much in so many words, she is “trapped” into remaining her friend when Veronica’s illness kicks in when she is at the wrong place at the right time. I believe that the gist of this story is that Veronica’s example of loving her partner despite his faults and having a brave death are examples that Alison can follow when she herself is permanently injured and discovers that she has hepatitis C. That could have all be summed up efficiently within a short story I never would have read. Alas…
Music ranging from classical opera to popular music of the WWII era and the 80’s is a major component to this story. Alison’s father, Alison, and Veronica attempt to use music to document the meaning in their life. Alison’s father is trying to reach his lost big brother. Alison is trying to find herself. Veronica is trying to explain love and her relationship with Duncan. In actuality, they are using it to hide in a more pleasant past. A past remembered much more fondly that it deserves.
Despite the fact that this reading experience is as close as I’ve ever come with a book to the movie experience I had with “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (where I left the theater cussing and demanding those two hours of my life back), Gaitskill has a way with language. Her paragraphs are lyrical. I’m not sure if this is actually a compliment or not, but this is the first time the word c*nt has been used in a way that felt appropriate to me.
Unless you enjoy wallowing in the muck of a narcissist’s life while she constantly judges others and rarely takes responsibility for herself or life in general, I do not suggest you read this book. Actually, I urge you to run screaming from Veronica.