Mary Gaitskill Biography
(1954– ), Bad Behaviour, Two Girls, Fat and Thin
American writer, born in Lexington, Kentucky; she grew up near Detroit, and was educated at the University of Michigan. She had a troubled adolescence, absconding from home to live as a stripper in Manhattan at 16, and then led a rootless and insecure life sleeping rough. She established her reputation with Bad Behaviour (1988), a closely observed collection of short stories about the seedy side of New York City, and some of its marginalized inhabitants. Frequently dealing with the characters' desire for intimacy, the stories focus on drug abuse, self-abuse, and the link between romance and pornography in contemporary urban society. Following the huge success of the stories she published a novel, Two Girls, Fat and Thin (1991), an intense, compelling portrait of disturbance, seen through the relationship of a newspaper writer, Justine Shade, and her editor, Dorothy (both women were sexually abused as children) who are working on mysterious cult figure Anna Granite (based on Ayn Rand).