The author of Veronica, Bad Behavior, and Because They Wanted To (among other books) turns 57 today. Those unfamiliar with her writing may have seen the movie Secretary, which she called "a little too nice." I think it's pretty good, but the short story — in Bad Behavior — is better. And Veronica, which was nominated for the National Book Award, is wonderful and scary and will give you nightmares. Some of Gaitskill's work explores BDSM, but she's no big fan of the Marquis de Sade — she once said, "I don't think much of Sade as a writer, although I enjoyed beating off to him as a child." Above, Gaitskill reads a letter from prison inmate Beverly Jaynes.

And for anyone who needs a refresher on Secretary, here it is. The movie also helped put Maggie Gyllenhaal on the map, so raise a glass to both of them — or to Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leonardo DiCaprio, or Holy Roman Empress Gisela of Swabia, all of whom were born on this day.