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Mary Gaitskill, photo by Derek Shapton
Mary Gaitskill


NYS Writers Institute, Thursday, October 29, 2015
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Campus Center Room 375, Uptown Campus
8:00 p.m. Reading | Campus Center Room 375, Uptown Campus

Mary Gaitskill, National Book Award finalist for her novel, Veronica (2005), will read from her new novel, The Mare (2015), about the relationships among a middle-age Upstate artist, a Fresh Air Fund kid, and an abused and spirited horse, on Thursday, October 29, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. in Campus Center Room 375 on the University at Albany uptown campus. Earlier that same day at 4:15 p.m., the author will present an informal seminar in the same location. Free and open to the public, the events are sponsored by the New York State Writers Institute and the Times Union Book Club.

Mary Gaitskill
 received a National Book Award nomination for her 2005 novel, Veronica, and a PEN/Faulkner Award nomination for her 1997 story collection, Because They Wanted To. Her new novel, The Mare (2015), explores the evolving relationships among a Dominican girl from the inner city, a middle-aged white woman, and the abused and spirited mare that transforms their lives. As the The Marenovel opens, Ginger is a failed artist and recovering alcoholic living with her academic husband in Upstate New York, and Velveteen Vargas is an eleven year old Fresh Air Fund kid from an abusive family in Brooklyn. Over the course of several eventful years, they experience pain and disappointment, love and healing, growth and wisdom.

The book was named one of the Huffington Post’s “Can’t Miss New Reads” for Fall 2015; one of Entertainment Weekly’s “Blockbuster Novels of Fall 2015”; and one of Kirkus Reviews’ “21 Must Read Fall Books.” Bookshout! called the novel “Gaitskill’s most poignant and powerful work yet…raw, striking, and completely original.” Kirkus Reviews said, “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 to bring us a novel that gallops along like a bracing bareback ride on a powerful thoroughbred.”

Mary GaitskillSet primarily in Paris and Manhattan amid the excess of the 1980s art scene, Gaitskill’s 2005 novel Veronica presents the complicated friendship between Allison, a teen runaway, party girl, and fashion model, and Veronica, an eccentric older woman. The novel was listed as one of the “10 Best Books of 2005” by the New York Times and was a finalist for the National Book Award. It also appeared on the January 2006 bestseller lists of both the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. The New York Times Book Review called it, “a masterly examination of the relationship between surface and self, culture and fashion, time and memory . . . [Gaitskill’s] palpable talent puts her among the most eloquent and perceptive contemporary fiction writers.”

Gaitskill’s short story collections include Because They Wanted To (1997), a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award that presents a number of unhappy, unhealthy, and emotionally complicated sexual encounters; and Bad Behavior (1988), which startled reviewers with its lucid examinations of sadomasochism, drug addiction, prostitution, and other self-destructive behaviors.

Her 1991 novel, Two Girls, Fat and Thin (1991), explores the odd relationship between its title characters, one sexually reckless and promiscuous, and the other socially isolated and abstinent. Though both are survivors of sexual abuse in childhood, each plays out the consequences of that trauma in a radically different way.

Previous Visit: April 6, 2006

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.