A new and not particularly great short story collection by the National Book Award winner for her novel The News from Paraguay, which I haven’t read, so I can’t say anything about that.
I picked this one up because the premise seemed interesting, and the title novella in the collection seemed to both be doing something interesting, and it takes place more or less local to where I live and parts of Virginia I am familiar with. The premise of this novella begins with a woman in her forties living in horse country in Virginia. This is the central part of the state, especially the counties near to Charlottesville that have been made famous in the recent years by a kind of celebrity status of many of the farm owners, and in some cases the farm owners being celebrities. For example, Sam Shepard and Jessica Lange owned a farm there for a long time. But this story takes place in the early sixties and involves a woman getting involved with a roustabout horse trainer and jockey who is handsome and smart and unconnected to social life in the hills there. It’s also interspersed with texts from Wuthering Heights and quotes from and about William Faulkner, who every Virginia English major knows worked at the University of Virginia for a time in the early 1950s after he won the Nobel The book’s weakness from the too on-the-nose part of the horse guy being named Cliff and therefore being a stand in for Heathcliff. Simply having the narrator tell us she called him Cliff would have fixed this, but it was an annoying author’s hand kind of choice that bothered me.