Tuesday, November 2, 2010

On "Lockwood's Lawn" by Mary Gaitskill (3223 words) ***

This as-yet-uncollected story by Mary Gaitskill tells the tale of two generations. In that sense, it's a familiar one--parents with differing values from their children. Often such stories end with a certain amount of understanding. I'm reminded of Jayne Anne Phillips's "Home," which while not exactly ending in a place that scales the two generations together in terms of values does come part of that distance in terms of feeling. Gaitskill leaves us no such loveliness. Mr. Lockwood doesn't understand his daughters. He finds his own values don't seem to match those of the world anymore but continues to live by them anyway, and while he tries to reach out to his daughters, he seems more to have given in and given up. Louise, the last one left at home, sits depressed in her room--possibly having been broken up with, possibly just feeling low self-esteem. Either way, the dad here (as well as the mom) seems to be able to find no response that will work to bring her back from her misery. Like the boys who bother Mr. Lockwood by stumbling across his lawn, Lockwood seems to view the men in his daughters' lives as crooks of the sexual sort--crooks who the daughters seem not to mind stumbling over them. Unable to let go of his children, Lockwood seems paralyzed in a past that doesn't exist. Read the story here at Blip.

No comments: