Do people of color, including women of color among the victims, count for anything more than “things” viewed from the outside, in Gaitskill’s work? Noticed by a penetrating (white) gaze, to be sure, but all the same invisible.
“Being alone with our thoughts and feelings is an act of self-possession. In the book, I definitely was exploring the idea that women can find strength in silence, particularly as a refusal to engage with what doesn’t serve them.”
Van Den Berg gives loveliness to the gruesome while opening up the novel’s world to all kinds of ghosts. The real emotional power of the novel, however, beyond the elegance of its language and the precision and momentum of its telling, builds from what ends up being a brutal moment of confrontation.
The public nature of the hate is critical to its Americanizing function. Shouting hate slogans, hateful slurs, is our form of communist denunciation and coerced betrayals of loved ones — only, instead of marking Party membership, by offering up traitors to a cause, capitalists, enemies of state — we signal we are part of the majority by verbalizing hate, demonization, exclusion.