RUST by Julie Mars


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When her New York options seem to run out, artist Margaret Shaw heads to New Mexico to remake her work and her life.

Margaret has given up on New York. Although she acknowledges that her inability to break into the art world is partly due to her thin skin—the legacy of her parents' abandonment more than 30 years before—this failure weighs on her. At 37 she packs up the most portable of her paintings and her dog Magpie and heads west. She seeks space, a new beginning and the chance to trade in her paints for sculpture. A rusty lock, found on the beach, is her totem, and once settled into a rundown adobe house, she begins her search for someone who can teach her how to weld. Her appearance at Rico Garcia's garage is a revelation for them both. As the unhappily married Rico teaches Margaret the secrets of metal, the wounds of both their past lives are revealed. It's a complex relationship, complicated by their mutual desire, but as he comes to terms with his violent family she begins to open up. Meanwhile, half a world away, Margaret's father reappears and begins to take small steps toward re-entering the world. As in her previous work (Anybody, Any Minute, 2008, etc.), Mars focuses on the new start—a woman's rediscovery of herself after she moves, rather impulsively, to a new place. Along the way the author writes of the dusty landscape as well as the almost-barren emotional landscape of her two main characters. At times the tone is stilted, almost formal, but the overall effect is incantatory, transforming the hard-luck story of two ordinary people into something magical.

An inspiring, offbeat story of an artist who trusts her instincts and finds herself regaining her life.


Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-57962-226-8
Page count: 294pp
Publisher: Permanent Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2012


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