Jessie van Eerden

Call It Horses

Winner of the 2019 Dzanc Prize for Fiction
Set in small-town West Virginia in the twilight of the eighties, Call It Horses tells the story of three women—niece, aunt, and stowaway—and an improbable road trip.

Frankie is an orphan (or a reluctant wife). Mave is an autodidact (or the town pariah). Nan is an artist (or the town whore). Each separately haunted, Frankie, Mave, and Nan—with a hound in tow—set out in an Oldsmobile Royale for Abiquiú and the desert of Georgia O’Keeffe, seeking an escape from everything they’ve known.

Frankie records the journey in letters to her aunt Mave’s dead lover, a linguist named Ruth, sketching out her troubled life and her complicated relationship with Mave, who became her guardian when Frankie was orphaned at sixteen. Slowly, one letter at a time, Frankie exposes the ruins of herself and her fellow passengers: things that chase them, that died too soon, that never lived.

With lush prose and brutal empathy, Frankie tells Ruth—and herself—the story of liminality experienced by a woman standing just outside of motherhood, fulfillment, and love.
242 printed pages
Original publication
Dzanc Books



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