“Acceptance Journey”
by Mary Gaitskill
from the December 24 & 31, 2018 issue of The New Yorker

Here we are with the final New Yorker story of 2018 (though we’ll get the first of 2019 on New Year’s Eve). I have come to like Mary Gaitskill quite a bit over the last few years since I first read her story “The Other Place” was well received for the most part but led to an interesting conversation in the comments with some who really didn’t like it. I wonder what Gaitskill has in store for us to end 2018!

I haven’t finished the story, but it begins with a fifty-seven-year-old woman named Carol finding some relief in a new town after fleeing her husband and her boyfriend. We get the sense soon that her life has been pretty difficult and out of control for a while, but her new home is temporary. With all of this going on under the surface, she tries to excel in her new job and enjoy the new neighborhood. But, as Alice Munro often shows, the stuff under the surface is terribly real:

The most pacific grasses and meadows of her inner being were subject to sudden sinkholes full of bone and bilious tissue, spilling over with the multifarious faces, the intimate crimes and errors of her life, all pulling her in the opposite direction as she walked forward, saying hi to people and their dogs, mostly middle-aged except for one bent but fast-moving old lady with an alert husky.

However, Munro’s stories usually don’t take as many dark turns as Gaitskill’s. I’m expecting Carol’s life to keep going down in a sickening spiral. I don’t know — maybe it will all turn out for the best.

We’ll see!

Please comment below to let us know how you liked “Acceptance Journey.” I’m looking forward to a fun discussion to end 2018!

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