‘Turgor’ by Mary Gaitskill

Turgor by Mary Gaitskill, 1997

The magic trick:

Using the final sentence to sort out the narrator’s feelings about the story’s events

“Turgor” takes you into every intimate moment of a one-night stand that never quite gets on its feet. The level of true-to-life detail is remarkable enough in its own right. But what I really liked was the last sentence.

The narrator overhears a neighbor talking. She decides he was “being sarcastic, but he also meant it.” It’s the perfect encapsulation of the story – the man she brings home, the way she feels about her current life. And, really, isn’t that the way we all often feel about the things in our lives?

And that’s quite a trick on Gaitskill’s part.

The selection:

“You look like a movie star,” he said.

I mumbled abashedly.

“How did you get your look?”

“It’s just a wig.” Perplexed and embarrassed to think he might be making fun of me, I looked at the gift table, upon which guests had impishly heaped dildos, vibrators, carrots, daikons, and cucumbers. “My,” I said, “look at that preponderance of elongated objects.”

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