Archive for the ‘Jane Smiley’ Category

Horse Heaven = winner

April 10, 2008

I love love love this book.  Absolute winner.  There were so many crazy, quirky animal and human characters in this novel but my favorite characters were a horse named Justa Bob who always won races by a nose and has a habit of pooping in his water bucket; and Elaine, a highly-opinionated Jack Russell terrier.  The human characters were equally enjoyable and hilarious.  This book is about thoroughbred horse racing, but even if you don’t know anything about horses or racing, Jane Smiley’s thoughtful and flowing writing style will help you figure it out for yourself.   Its a little challenging to keep track of all of the people in this book and who owns what horse, but Smiley gives all characters equal amount of time and attention and the all the story lines flow into one another. 

I always feel kind of sad when I finish a book that I really enjoyed.  I have to take a few days off from reading to clear my head, because all the characters become so real to me.  Plus its hard to figure out what to read next.  I picked up The Devil’s Highway at that bookstore in Hastings, so that’s probably next, but I know it will be an emotionally intense read and I’m not quite ready for that yet.


Horse Heaven

March 25, 2008

Picked up this book randomly while browsing at a going out of business sale at an independent book store in Hastings last week. Manny and I went to the store after reading an article about it in the NY Times, which said that after this store closed there would no more independent book stores in the entire western part of Westchester County, until you hit Peekskill, a town in the very northwestern corner of the county. We thought that was pretty sad so we went to check out the store and I wanted to buy something and saw this book about horses and decided to get it.This is one of those books that has a “cast of characters” list in the beginning with all of the character’s names and relations to one another. I usually hate these books that jump from one character to another because a) my favorite character gets the least attention b) my least favorite character ends up getting all the attention and c) I hate flipping back and forth in the book trying to remember the last thing I read about a character. But the characters in this book are all mildly interesting so I’m not favoring one story line over another. Plus its about horses which is enough to keep me reading. I was one of those girls who loved horses. I took riding lessons every Saturday for a few years, even jumped over some fences, but stopped around high school because I wasn’t competitive and didn’t want to enter horse shows and didn’t have money to enter horse shows, so what was the point of paying for lessons where the goal was to get you into horse shows? In high school I was a band geek so band practice took up most of my Saturday riding time.

But damn, when I was younger, what I wouldn’t give to be around horses all the time. To have my own saddle, to lease or buy a horse at the stable and just go ride whenever I wanted, this was my dream. One time after my riding class, my instructor asked me if I could stay and be a lead rider for the next lesson. The next lesson was a beginner class and all the students followed a lead rider around instead of riding on their own. So I stayed on my horse for the following lesson had a group of little girls follow me as I trotted around the ring and it was the best feeling in the world. I could tell the girls in the class thought I was one of “those girls” who just hung out in the barn all the time and rode horses all the time and knew all there was to know about horses. I felt so knowledgeable and important, being that lead rider. After the lesson I helped the girls off their horses and helped the barn staff clean up the horses and put them back in their stalls. It was totally one of the best days of my life.