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Tess Gallagher published her fiction anthology The Lover of Horses in 1986; the title story is about a woman who arrives home to help her parents.
The story shows a history of mental illness and obsession in a family stretching back to the great-grandfather, who loved horses to the point of abandoning his family to follow a circus horse act until the horse died; when he returned home, he was insensible and sometimes reenacted the circus horse's routine in the fields. The narrator, who arrives home to help her mother with her gambling father, shows signs of the same obsession as she helps him win and then vows to follow in his footsteps. Because she takes her own path instead of seeking help for her father and herself, she is likely to fall to his same fate: drinking, gambling, and general slovenly behavior. The central point of the story, therefore, could be that no family member can fully escape their heritage, and without external help and objective analysis, may never resolve their inner problems.
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