Because They Wanted To: Stories

BOOK: Because They Wanted To: Stories
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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
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.


’s most recent book,
, was nominated for a 2005 National Book Award and was one of
The New York Times
’s 10 Best Books of 2005. She is also the author of the acclaimed novel
Two Girls, Fat and Thin
and the short story collection
Bad Behavior
. Her stories and essays have appeared in
The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, Esquire, The Best American Short Stories
(1993), and
The O. Henry Prize Stories
(1998). Her story “Secretary” was the basis for the film of the same name. She lives in New York.




Praise for
Because They Wanted To


“Splendid ...
Because They Wanted To
is too rich to read at a sitting—too many good lines, too much precision about too many complex emotions—yet it’s too compelling not to.”

—David Gates,

“Gaitskill’s brand of brainy lyricism, of acid shot through with grace, is unlike anyone else’s. And it constitutes some of the most incisive fiction writing around.”

—Meghan O’rourke,
The New York Times Book Review

“An exploration that shows maturity, depth, and dazzling insight.”

—Sherri Hallgren,
San Francisco Chronicle

“Subtle and elegant . . . she sees what’s worth saving in these outsiders lives, and as much as they mourn, these stories are also a jeremiad against the modern world’s assault on the soul.”

—Ann Powers,
The Village Voice

“It is the essence of Mary Gaitskill’s fiction to acknowledge all the impulses at war in the human heart, and to deliver them to her readers in the form of compelling, evocative art.”

—Jessica Treadway,
The Boston Globe

“Soulful, erotically charged . . .”

—Virginia Heffernen,
The Boston Phoenix

“[A] stunning new short-story collection . . . Gaitskill’s vignettes—and her complex, memorable characters—perfectly capture the delicious impossibility of our postmodern, post-feminist, postqueer existence.”

—Jeannine DeLombard,

“Better than any other writer working today, Mary Gaitskill comprehends the spiritual and emotional malaise of American life at the end of the millennium. . . . Surely, there have been few stories this brilliant published anywhere in the past five years.”

—Chauncey Mabe,
Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

“Her dark humor, her ambitious, novelistic delineation of character, her resonant language, and startling insights make her stories linger as examinations of old-fashioned universals: pain, suffering, compassion, redemption.”

—Katherine Price,
The Memphis Commercial Appeal

“Gaitskill writes beautifully about ugly subjects. . . . What Gaitskill shares with the reader may seem too scary for polite short stories, but what’s most frightening about this young writer is her sheer talent.”

—Dale Neal,
Asheville Citizen-Times

“A phenomenal writer . . . prepare to be challenged, engaged, angered, delighted, and entertained.”

—-Jeff G. Peters,
Tallahassee Community News

“Few writers are as skilled as Mary Gaitskill in articulating the shades and sonorities of the burning heart.”

—David Cohea,
The Orlando Sentinel

“She writes . . . with precision, insight, and enormous energy that serves to enlarge the humanity of these characters.”

—Jane McCafferty,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Mary Gaitskill, one of the bright new stars of American fiction.”

—Roger Harris,
Newark Star Ledger


Also by Mary Gaitskill


Bad Behavior

Two Girls, Fat and Thin

Rockefeller Center
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 1997 by Mary Gaitskill

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

& S
and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows: Gaitskill, Mary.
Because they wanted to: stories/Mary Gaitskill.
p. cm.
I. Title.
PS3557.A36B43 1997
813’.54—dc21                          96-46337

ISBN-13: 978-0-684-80856-7
ISBN-10:        0-684-80856-4
          ISBN-13: 978-0-684-84144-1 (Pbk)
          ISBN-10:        0-684-84144-4 (Pbk)
              ISBN-13: 978-1-4391-2797-1 (ebook)

Some of these stories first appeared in slightly different form in the following publications:
The Threepenny Review
(“Tiny, Smiling Daddy”),
(“The Blanket”),
Fourteen Hills
(“The Girl on the Plane”),
(“Kiss and Tell”), and
The New Yorker

Excerpt from “East Coker” in
Four Quartets,
copyright 1943 by T. S. Eliot and renewed 1971 by Esme Valerie Eliot, reprinted by permission of Harcourt Brace & Company.

“Day-O” (The Banana Boat Song). Words and music by Irving Burgie and William Attaway. Copyright © 1955; Renewed 1983 by Lord Burgess Music Publishing Company (ASCAP)/Cherry Lane Music Publishing, Inc. (ASCAP). Worldwide rights for Lord Burgess Music Publishing Company administered by Cherry Lane Music Publishing Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

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BOOK: Because They Wanted To: Stories
6.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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