From Publishers Weekly
Barich, a former New Yorker
writer, moves to Dublin after falling in love with an Irish woman, but shortly after his arrival he develops an (arguably) even stronger passion for gambling on Irish horse races. This obsession is an extension of his longstanding infatuation with the racetrack (which was the basis for his 1980 classic, Laughing at the Hills
). But the steeplechase popular throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom is an entirely different type of race, where a horse's jumping skills matter as much as speed. Barich follows a steeplechase season from October to March, culminating in a weeklong series of races at Cheltenham, England, and consults as many horse trainers, jockeys, bookies and fellow fans as he can find to get the inside dope on how he should place his bets. His narrative is simple but elegant, and his language is erudite without being pretentious. (When he slips in an allusion to Ulysses
, for example, it's so casual that it won't stop readers who don't catch it.) The book's setting may be exotic to American readers, but the sheer joy of being a sports fan will be familiar to many. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* The topics that bring out the best in Barich, which is very good indeed, are fishing, horse racing, and travel. In his latest offering, readers will get a satisfying helping of the latter two. Barich, formerly of northern California, moved to Ireland a couple of years ago in the (successful) pursuit of a lady, only to fall in love with her country and her country's racing as well. We're talking about racing "over the jumps"--chasers and hurdlers--and it is quite different from the "flat" racing Barich was used to. It takes him a couple of months to get up to speed, but he is soon following the long winter season as avidly as any native son of the old sod. Everything points to the April festival at Cheltenham and the climactic Cheltenham Gold Cup. Barich travels throughout Ireland and northern England to watch the major contenders and talk to their owners, trainers, and riders, always in search of the key insight that will produce a memorable payday--and the accompanying bragging rights--on Gold Cup Day. Alas, that windfall never materializes, but readers are rewarded on every page. With Barich as an ever-amiable companion, the Irish winter passes so pleasantly that one hardly notices how much has been absorbed about the country, its people, and its favorite sport. Dennis DodgeCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved