Bad Behaviour by Mary Gaitskill (1988) – Review

Mary Gaitskill’s collection of short stories, Bad Behaviour, first published in 1988, are mostly set in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, New York and are vignettes into lives of, often, young, white-collar workers and aspiring actors and artists suffering social and economic dislocation and despair. Gaitskill’s focus is upon relationships, with economic struggle in the background.

Though sometimes written from the male point of view, women seem to be the primary focus of the stories. Often they are caught in uneven power dynamics but Gaitskill rarely presents simple scenarios of victim and abuser. The abusive men are sometimes depicted as vulnerable, in their own way, or, in the case of prostitution, a party in a transaction. There is an acceptance, at times, by the young female office worker and writer characters of transactional and/or exploitative, sexual relations, perhaps, reflecting a reality that goes largely ignored.

When it comes to moral judgment, Gaitskill seems, often, to be directing the reader to look beyond individuals to the nature of our society: “It was a busy corner; traffic ran savagely in the street, and people stamped by, staring in different directions, clutching their packages, briefcases and huge screaming radios, their faces concentrated but empty.”

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My Shitty Relationship with Body Weight

By Yvonne;

Over the last three years, I have become very avoidant in having full body photos taken. I hate looking at myself in the mirror, and purposefully do not own a full length mirror. For a long time, the image of my body disgusted me. At times, it still does.

As a teen, I struggled with my body image and weight. Looking back on photos of high school me, I cognitively understand that I would be perceived as “tiny” by most of my peers. I stood 5’4″ and 115 pounds, but I was miserable. I came from a family and ethnic background where the women weighed in at 100 pounds until their mid or late 20s. Family members always had something to say about a girl’s body, especially mine. I was taller, built a bit more muscular, heavier, and still growing. The people I was surrounded with and media were really not helping me form healthy viewpoints of my body. I already had a lot of internalized self loathing at a young age.

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Why I Went Back to University – searching for a path

By Michael;

A few years ago, I wrote a somewhat zany post in which I explored the differences between the nightmares I have as an adult and the ones that plagued me as a child. In that post. I listed returning to education as one of my most frequent recurring nightmares as an adult- specifically in the form of a postgraduate degree. In each version of the dream, I would be unable to perform basic tasks- keeping up with deadlines, concentrating on assignments, or simply understanding the work. It all amounted to a general sense of being “out of touch”, of going back to something I used to do and finding myself no longer able to function in that setting. I’d lost that part of myself forever.

And yet here I am, right now in my waking life, in the thick of postgraduate education. After graduating from the University of Winchester with a BA in Creative Writing in 2014, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, or better yet- what I could possibly offer to the job market. I came close to doing an online MA in Creative Writing, but my heart wasn’t in it. Delaying adulthood didn’t seem like an adequate justification for taking on more debt. After that I stopped considering education- though as I mentioned, it would continue to creep into my dreams for some reason.

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Day 168: job search and challenging self-doubt

By Anton;

Giving myself a moment here, almost a week no writing, mostly spent this week in interview preps, there is much to catch up, refresh myself on, after six of years of working in one ‘shop,’ there is a bit of pigeon hole mentality has set in, so expanding and learning in prep for the next job interview. As I study thru some materials, there is a sense of overwhelmingness, “wow so much I don’t know”, this is bit of a trap, I have worked on software development for 25+ years, last 6 years in one ‘shop’ and the previous 5 years in one shop etc, so to hear my own voice in the head saying “oh there is so much to learn, you will never get another job” is rather crazy.

Of course I need a method to this madness, focus on subjects that are relevant to the next job, namely a strong c++ (version c++11) and good Linux embedded know-hows, fair to say I am comfortable in both domains, sure there is a lot to learn as well, hey I did these things for years, I have coded, developed software in so many different systems, products, languages, so why the fuck am I freaking out, its because the voice in the head is ‘doubting myself’, its confusing orderly focus to unorderly random focus, sure, if I were to randomly look at software development landscape, its huge and unfathomable for any single person, that’s where focus matters, stay focus on what is required for the next job.

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