The most important part of a book—be it a memoir, novel, or something else entirely—is the ending. It’s your last opportunity to show the reader what you’re truly capable of as a writer. There’s the well-worn instruction that declares endings should be surprising, yet inevitable, and I’ve always found that the best endings adhere to it. My favorite kind of endings are the ones that misdirect, or seem to; they pivot from the established narrative in some meaningful way. Mary Gaitskill does this in Veronica. The novel concerns a middle-aged woman—a former model now on disability after an accident—who reflects on a formative friendship from her glittery days in fashion. The story is bookended by a fairy tale about a “wicked girl” who sinks in a muddy bog. Although the fairy tale is introduced at the outset of the novel, it takes on new meaning when Gaitskill returns to it in her final pages. It’s a sleight of hand, an illusion—or it appears to be. But what is the meaning? It’s up to the reader to decide.
—Thomas Gebremedhin, vice president and executive editor, Doubleday