One of the Best Books of the Year The New York Times - The Washington Post - NPR - San Francisco Chronicle - Vanity Fair - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Kansas City Star When Velveteen Vargas, an eleven-year-old Fresh Air Fund kid from Brooklyn, comes to stay with a family in upstate New York, what begins as a two-week visit blossoms into something much more significant. Soon Velvet finds herself torn between her host family-Ginger, a failed artist and shakily recovered alcoholic; and Paul, a college professor-and her own deeply tormented mother. The one constant becomes Velvet's newly discovered passion for horse riding-and especially for an abused, unruly mare named Fugly Girl. A stirring and deeply felt novel, The Mare is Mary Gaitskill's most poignant and powerful work yet-a stunning exploration of a girl and her horse, and of the way we connect with people from all walks of life.
"Extraordinary. . . . [A] magnificently hopeful novel." - The New York Times Book Review "Captivating. . . . A fascinating exploration of urban despair, female depression and sexual awakening." - The Washington Post "Brave and bold. . . . The range of Gaitskill's humanity is astonishing." - Los Angeles Times "Gaitskill is such a preternaturally gifted writer that nearly every page of The Mare shimmers with exacting and sometimes hallucinatory observation." - The New York Times "A raw, beautiful story about love and mutual delusion." -Maureen Corrigan, NPR "[An] extraordinary artistic achievement. . . . Bracing in its rigorous truth-seeking, subtle and capacious in its moral vision, Gaitskill's work feels more real than real life and reading her leads to a place that feels like a sacred space." - The Boston Globe "Remarkably tender. . . . A deeply affecting tribute to basic human connection." - Entertainment Weekly " 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. . . . [Velvet] is that most wonderful of fictional creations: a convincing child who manages to be a captivating and perceptive narrator." - The New Yorker "[Gaitskill's] gift is to unfold emotions, no matter how petty or upsetting, and describe them with disarming patience. . . . The result often feels both primal and electric, something like a latter-day D. H. Lawrence." - Chicago Tribune "Piercingly poignant. . . . Give[s] 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." - Minneapolis Star Tribune "Poetic, uplifting." - San Francisco Chronicle "Gaitskill is more than a gifted story-teller. She is an enchanter. . . . The power of [her] writing comes, in part, from her ability to evoke strong emotions without offering the resolutions readers have come to expect." - New Republic " The Mare ripples with internal emotional movement, but it is also a physical novel. . . . 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 " The Mare is classic Gaitskill. . . . In [her] hands, even the most raw and fleeting moments drip with complexity." - Elle "Gaitskill builds her story through rotating first-person narratives. . . . [Her] structure allows her to spotlight the limitations in every character's perspective while nevertheless fostering sympathy for each of them. And the voices ring true." - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "To know these characters and to judge this book, you have to read every word, and be ready to have your own prejudices challenged." - The Buffalo News "I can think of no other living writer who so deftly feels into the corners of each of her characters' emotions." -Liz Cook, The Kansas City Star