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Tess Gallagher's 1986 anthology The Lover of Horses won critical acclaim, especially for the title story.
"The Lover of Horses" concerns a woman, the narrator, who responds to her mother's request to help bring her father home; he is drinking and gambling beyond reason. Instead of stopping him, she assists and encourages him, allowing him to continue a winning streak. His obsessive nature is compared with the history of mental obsession in their family, particularly her great-grandfather, who obsessed over horses and abandoned their family to follow a circus act. At the end of the story, the narrator mimics her father's behavior, using his methods of escape to mourn his imminent death. She realizes that she shares the obsessions of her family's line, and will probably follow their paths in life; she takes it on herself to outdo her father in obsession, believing it to be inevitable, with no other option. Her attitude is directly individualistic, but one of self-harm: instead of vowing to take an opposing path, she embraces her family's eccentricities and insanities, heading to a path of personal self-destruction.
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