The Mare

The Mare : A Novel

3.67 (3,631 ratings by Goodreads)
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Following her National Book Award-nominated Veronica, here is Mary Gaitskill's most poignant and powerful work yet--the story of a Dominican girl, the Anglo woman who introduces her to riding, and the horse who changes everything for her.
Velveteen Vargas is eleven years old, a Fresh Air Fund kid from Brooklyn. Her host family is a couple in upstate New York: Ginger, a failed artist and shakily recovered alcoholic, and her academic husband, Paul, who wonder what it will mean to "make a difference" in such a contrived situation. Gaitskill illuminates their shifting relationship with Velvet over several years, as well as Velvet's encounter with the horses at the stable down the road--especially with an abused, unruly mare called Fugly Girl. With strong supporting characters--Velvet's abusive mother, an eccentric horse trainer, a charismatic older boy who awakens Velvet's nascent passion--The Mare traces Velvet's journey between the vital, violent world of the inner city and the world of the small-town stable.
In Gaitskill's hands, the timeless story of a girl and a horse is joined with a timely story of people from different races and classes trying to meet one another honestly. The Mare is raw, heart-stirring, and original.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 464 pages
  • 165 x 236 x 41mm | 794g
  • English
  • 0307379744
  • 9780307379740
  • 413,154

Review quote

One of "Huffington Post"'s 2015 Fall 33 Can't-Miss New ReadsOne of"Kirkus Reviews "21 Must Read Fall BooksA "Refinery29" Fall fiction Great American Novels pickAn "Entertainment Weekly "pick for Blockbuster Novels of Fall 2015
" The Mare"is a raw, beautiful story about love and mutual delusion, in which the fierce erotics of mother love and romantic love and even horse fever are swirled together. Maureen Corrigan s Best Books of 2015, NPR s Fresh Air
Gaitskill has not lost her gift for transforming the outside world into the particular vision of one of her characters, rich and perplexed, and"The Mare"ripples with internal emotional movement, but it is also a physical novel . . . the book is an exciting read. Nothing stands still, not the horses, not the violent mother or the would-be mother, not the vicious jealous friends, not the boyfriend or husband, not the sky. Cathleen Schine, " The New York Review of Books "
[Gaitskill s] strange gift is to unfold emotions, no matter how petty or upsetting, and describe them with disarming patience for their stutters and silences, their repetitions and contradictions. The result often feels both primal and electric, something like a latter-day D. H. Lawrence. Amy Gentry, "Chicago Tribune "
Ms. Gaitskill is such a preternaturally gifted writer that nearly every page of "The Mare" shimmers with exacting and sometimes hallucinatory observation. Dwight Garner, "The New York Times
" Thank goodness Gaitskill wrote this book, for it is neither Disneyfied nor dark but a beautiful coming-of-age novel about love and violence with a soupcon of redemption tossed in. Natalie Serber, "The Portland Oregonian
" The range of Gaitskill's humanity is astonishing and matched only, it seems, by a desire to confront readers with the trembling reality of our shared ugliness . . . This is a coming-of-age story in the way we are always coming of age, whether we are 13 or 47. What elevates it is the way Gaitskill rides herd on sentimentality, which isn't to suggest that the work isn't emotional it is. It's just that there are no false notes, no stumbles in the rare moments of tenderness. It's brave and bold to publish a book like this. Make no mistake: The women in this book, like Gaitskill herself, are mares. Elissa Schappell, "The Lost Angeles Times
" "The Mare" is classic Gaitskill . . . The novel is a reimagining of Enid Bagnold's "National Velvet" and what makes Gaitskill such an apt writer to recast Bagnold's beloved story is their shared obsession with the psychological tangle of intimate relationships . . . In Gaitskill's hands, even the most raw and fleeting moments drip with complexity. Kessiah Weird, "Elle Magazine
"" The Mare"is worth reading for the plot alone, which is as uplifting as it is gutting. But Gaitskill is more than a gifted story-teller. She is an enchanter, to borrow Nabokov s description of what makes a good writer a major one. The particular way in which she enchants by putting into words the wordless undercurrent of human behavior is explicit in"The Mare." Hannah Tennant-Moore, "The New Republic
"The Mare" is indebted, in its narrative strategy, to "As I Lay Dying, " another novel that employs a host of recurring narrators to get at the tangled intricacies of family life. There is a certain loom-like effect at work in both books, a warp-and-woof texture, visible only to the reader, produced by the interwoven sets of impressions . . . On horseback, Velvet is in her own, untouchable place, and Gaitskill s sentences lift their necks and pick up speed to match her movements stride for stride. Alexandra Schwartz, "The New Yorker
" In her last novel, "Veronica, "Gaitskill found a language for the inexpressible in the form of sexuality. "The Mare "goes further and deeper to give eloquent voice to the ineffable thoughts and feelings experienced across boundaries of age and race and class and gender and even, in this case, species. Ellen Akins, "The Minneapolis Star Tribune "
In soaring languagethat well captures being in the zone, whether it s painting or riding, Gaitskill brings home her theme of the importance of honoring one s gifts and the hard work of finding the best outlet for creative expression. Joanne Wilkinson, "Booklist "
The major and minor voices narrating this brilliant tapestry are wondrously original, poignant and despite all, not without hope. "Library Journal"(starred review)
Gaitskill takes a premise that could have been preachy, sentimental, or simplistic juxtaposing urban and rural, rich and poor, young and old, brown and white and makes it candid and emotionally complex, spare, real, and deeply affecting. She explores the complexities of love (mares, "meres" . . . ) to bring us a novel that gallops along like a bracing bareback ride on a powerful thoroughbred. "Kirkus Reviews "(starred review)
"[Gaitskill weaves] a rich back-and-forth narrative that encompasses falling in love, growing up, and doing right in worlds of privilege and poverty. The" Bust "Guide
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About Mary Gaitskill

MARY GAITSKILL is the author of the story collections Bad Behavior, Because They Wanted To (nominated for a PEN/Faulkner Award), and Don't Cry, and the novels Veronica (nominated for a National Book Award) and Two Girls, Fat and Thin. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, and her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Esquire, The Best American Short Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories.
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Rating details

3,631 ratings
3.67 out of 5 stars
5 20% (711)
4 41% (1,492)
3 29% (1,047)
2 8% (299)
1 2% (82)
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