Kentucky Women Writers Conference Welcomes 'Bad Behavior' Author Mary Gaitskill

February 1, 2018
By Whitney Hale


Author Mary Gaitskill reading an excerpt from her memoir, "Lost Cat," at Baruch College.

Mary Gaitskill, the fiction writer known for her edgy and audacious characters, will be the keynote speaker for the 2018 Kentucky Women Writers Conference, running Sept. 13-16. She is the author of three novels, three story collections and an essay collection. Gaitskill's keynote lecture is titled, "Why People Still Read," and it will take place 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14, on the University of Kentucky campus, followed by a book signing. The keynote event is free and open to the public, thanks to its sponsorship by UK Libraries.

“Mary Gaitskill’s fiction is fearless in its depictions of strength and weakness,” conference director Julie Kuzneski Wrinn said. “Nobody expected this author to write a novel like 'The Mare' — a mostly uplifting story about two families introduced through the Fresh Air Fund who become immersed in horse culture — but in a world of growing inequality, her uncanny insights into the challenges of giving and receiving seem incredibly relevant.”

Mary Gaitskill. Photo by Hillary Harvey.

Mary Gaitskill was born in Lexington and gained immediate acclaim and notoriety with her first story collection, “Bad Behavior,” published in 1988. One of its stories, “Secretary,” was made into a movie in 2002 starring Maggie Gyllenhaal. Since then, she has published three novels: “Veronica” (2005), which was nominated for the 2005 National Book Award, National Critic’s Circle Award and the LA Times Book Award; “Two Girls, Fat and Thin” (1991); and most recently, “The Mare” (2015). She has also written two other story collections, “Don’t Cry” (1997), which was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner award, and “Because They Wanted To” (2009). Her first collection of essays, “Somebody with a Little Hammer,” appeared last year.

Gaitskill will lead a second session for conference registrants only titled “Sexuality in Literature.” The 40th annual Kentucky Women Writers Conference, will take place Sept. 13-16, 2018, at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning and other Lexington venues. A program of the UK College of Arts and Sciences, the conference is the longest running literary festival of women in the nation. Registration opens May 1. For more information on the conference, visit online at