BELONG TO ME by Kai Maristed


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Further tales from American horse culture by Maristed, whose last novel, Fall (1996), offered more than one ever wanted to know about show jumping. These nine stories, in her first collection, are broader in focus but still suffer from an excess of uniformity in theme. Horses, horses everywhere notwithstanding, one of these tales is an unqualified chiller, stark and brutal in its revelations: “Blue Horse” is told by a young woman, now a homeless prostitute, who was abducted as a girl by a bodybuilder, tied up and abused in every way possible, then dragged back and forth across the country in a nightmare that lasted for years. Only when she began to act more like a lover and less like a victim did her abuser shun her, eventually freeing her by shooting himself—but the damage to her is permanent, and she’s convinced she can never go home again. A more conventional, less unsettling image of a broken home appears in —Rain—: a workaholic whose daughter wants a pony for her birthday can—t bear to tell his wife he’s been booted from his Boston law firm, and so he trades one addiction for another until his family leaves him. Two other stories explore family matters, along with the pressures of breeding and showing horses: in —Barn Swallows,— a brother-sister team with a respectable name in the business are well on their way to triumph at a show, which would quash recent memories of family tragedy—when further tragedy strikes. And in —If Wishes Were Horses, My Love,— a trackside wheeler-dealer, having lost his family and the wealthy woman he took up with, invests all his hopes for a reversal of his fortunes in just a colt—only to have the horse come up lame at an unfortunate moment. Some pieces here are more successful than others, yet all show the coiled emotional power and the unexpected detail typical of Maristed’s particular but also considerable talent.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-679-44410-6
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1998


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