Weâ€™ve recently witnessed the release of two new novels by exciting (and radically different) talents: On Beauty, by Zadie Smith, and Veronica, by Mary Gaitskill. On Beauty is a comic, sprawling family novel. Itâ€™s also a novel about the pursuit of beauty, which manages to find that virtue in unlikely places. Veronica, on the other hand, is decidedly morose. It deals with the friendship between two women â€“ one a bitter, used-up fashion model, the other a terminally ill office worker â€“ whose faith in beauty fails them while they fail each other. Itâ€™s a book about the body, its uses, and its inevitable decay; it has a merciless, almost cruel honesty.