Mary Gaitskill: Biography

Mary Gaitskill

11 nov 1954

Mary Gaitskill is an American author whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, and Esquire. Her short stories have also been included in The Best American Short Stories (1993, 2006, 2012) and The O. Henry Prize Stories (1998). The film, Secretary (2002), is based upon her short story of the same name, from her collection, Bad Behavior (1988), which was her debut collection. Her novel, Veronica (2005) was a National Book Award finalist.

Gaitskill was born in Lexington, Kentucky, and has lived in New York City, Toronto, San Francisco, and Marin County, California. She ran away as a teenager, and sold flowers in San Francisco. She also worked as a stripper and call girl. She attended the University of Michigan, where she earned a BA.

Once an edgy writer, Mary Gaitskill’s works were centered around feminism and eroticism, dealing with subjects like prostitution, addiction, and sado-masochism. The last of these works was published in 1998 in her collection, Because They Wanted To. After a bit of a crisis, with younger, newer writers taking over her genre, Gaitskill now writes with a different approach, as is reflected in Veronica, which is more obsessed with mortality and aging, and has a more dreamy style.

Mary Gaitskill chose to be a writer because she wanted to say something about what is wrong with the world. One of her favorite writers is Vladimir Nabokov. She was married to writer Peter Trachtenberg from 2001 to 2010, when they separated. She lives in Rhinebeck, New York.