Historic Galway barn, setting for new book

Saratoga Springs — “Barn Stories: Reflections from a Saratoga County Horse Farm,” by Galway resident, Mary Cuffe Perez, is a collection of stories drawn from the author’s fifteen years managing a horse boarding business on a Saratoga County farm. Published this fall by North Country Books, Barn Stories chronicles the author’s experiences with a struggling business and a cast of intriguing characters–both animal and human–whose lives intersect under the gable roof of a two-hundred-year-old barn located in Galway.

Mary will be reading from and signing copies of Barn Stories at Northshire Books, Broadway, Saratoga Springs, tonight at 7.

Turning the first page of Barn Stories is like sliding open the doors of the 200-year-old barn from which the stories emanate, breathing in the smell of hay, horses and layer upon layer of history. However, the stories in this collection are not just about nostalgia, but about life — what passes through and what is harbored there, and about the communities and landscapes of which they are a part. 

Finding boarders, keeping boarders and dealing with the eccentricity of boarders link these stories as they dip in and out of time, weaving together episodes from the barn’s early and recent history, and the many characters who come and go. 

“I think of the barn as a kind of theatre,” said Cuffe Perez, “within which all kinds of characters play their parts. These include the flinty Marilyn, the taciturn Arvis, an enigmatic child with a gift for communicating with horses, and a host of erratics — the miserable-old-son-of-a-bitch farrier, a horse whisperer, a few ghosts and even a movie crew that seizes the farm as the location for an independent film. And, of course, there are the horses — the ex-racehorse, Amongooseamongus, the woebegone barrel racer, Ozzy, the little genius, Trixster, and the flamboyant Viento (to name a few). All set within the quotidian rhythms of chores, vet calls, brutal winters, mud season and getting the hay in.

Cuffe Perez enjoys reading her stories aloud to an audience and reveals her secret for calming any jitters.

“These stories are easy and actually fun for me to read because they’re in my own voice,” she explained. “Writing should always be in your own voice or it doesn’t work. It will sound false and be awkward to read aloud.”

Mary Cuffe Perez is a writer of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. She lives in the town of Galway with her husband, Ken. Barn Stories is her fourth published book. Like her previous novel-n-verse, “Nothing by Name,” based on the life of a Galway farm woman, much of her writing is inspired by the history, natural beauty and people of rural upstate New York.