The Mare Lib/E (Compact Disc)
Eleven-year-old Velvet doesn’t want to be a summer project for some rich white woman, and recovering alcoholic Ginger is unsure of how to help her inner-city guest. Each has needs that are awakened during the time they spend together, though neither realizes their relationship will stretch far beyond the allotted two weeks because of an abused and unpredictable horse.
Point of view switches back and forth between the two main characters, with an occasional shift to Ginger’s husband or Velvet’s mother. All of the characters are damaged, but Gaitskill resists neat solutions and no easy repairs are issued. Instead she shows the uncertainty, pain, frustration, and breathtaking moments of hope they share.
November 2015 Indie Next List
“The Mare is the heart-wrenching story of a young inner-city girl in the Fresh Air Fund program who travels to a host family in upstate New York, where she befriends a frightened and abused racehorse at a nearby stable. Gaitskill navigates the ugly realities of both human and equine abuse, but, ultimately, this is a triumphant novel shaped by authentic characters and in which trust and determination win. Readers will be reminded of how our real-life connections with animals can both guide and heal.”
— Nancy Scheemaker (W), Northshire Bookstore Saratoga, Saratoga Springs, NY
From the author of Veronica, a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction, comes Mary Gaitskill's most poignant and powerful work yet: the story of a Dominican girl, the white woman who introduces her to riding, and the horse who changes everything for her.
Velveteen Vargas is an eleven-year-old from Brooklyn who is granted a summer vacation in the country, courtesy of the nonprofit Fresh Air Fund. Her host family is a couple in upstate New York: Ginger, a failed artist on the fringe of Alcoholics Anonymous, and Paul, an academic who wonders what it will mean to make a difference in such a contrived situation. Here we see the couple's changing relationship with Velvet over the course of several years, as well as Velvet's powerful encounter with the horses at the stable down the road, as Gaitskill weaves together Velvet's vital inner-city community and the privileged country world of Ginger and Paul.
The timeless story of a girl and a horse is joined with the story of people from different races and socioeconomic backgrounds trying to meet one another honestly. It is a novel that is raw, striking, and completely original.