|Amazon Price||New from||Used from|
Audiobook Download, Unabridged
The Industry Leaders had made it their personal mission to bring horse racing to the attention of the general public, with the NFL as their model and television as their medium of choice, which was fine with Farley, though his own view was that horse racing out at the track, newspaper reading, still photography, placing bets in person, and writing thank-you notes by hand were all related activities, and football, ESPN, video, on-line betting, and not writing thank-you notes at all were another set of related activities.A crucial piece of information for Smiley fans is that, among her many novels, Horse Heaven most resembles Moo. (And there's even a pig!) In fact, with these two books it appears that this versatile author has finally found a home in which to unpack her impressive gifts: that is, the sprawling, intricately plotted satirical novel. Her target in this case is not academia but horse racing--less commonly satirized but, here at least, just as fruitfully so. Wickedly knowing, dryly comic, the result is as much fun to read as it must have been to write.
None of which means that Horse Heaven is a casual read. For starters, one practically needs a racing form to keep track of its characters, particularly when their stories begin to overlap and converge in increasingly unlikely and pleasing ways. Perhaps it says something about the novel that the easiest figures to follow are the horses themselves: loutish Epic Steam, the "monster" colt; the winsome filly Residual; supernaturally focused Limitless; and trembling little Froney's Sis. And that's not to forget Horse Heaven's single most prepossessing character, Justa Bob--a little swaybacked, a little ewe-necked, but possessed of a fine sense of humor and an abiding disdain for winning races by anything but a nose.
Then there are the humans, including but not limited to socialite Rosalind Maybrick, her husband Al (who manufactures "giant heavy metal objects" in "distant impoverished nationlike locations"), a Zen trainer, a crooked trainer, a rapper named Ho Ho Ice Chill, an animal psychic, and a futurist scholar, as well as attendant jockeys, grooms, and hangers-on. (Not to mention poor, ironically named Joy, a few years out of Moo U and still having problems relating.) It's a little frustrating to watch this cast come and go and fight for Smiley's attention; you glimpse them so vividly, and then they disappear for another hundred pages, and it breaks your heart.
But there are certainly worse problems a novel could have than characters to whom you grow overattached. A plot this convoluted would be one, if only it weren't so hard to stop reading. There are elements of magic realism, astounding coincidences, unabashed anthropomorphism. (At one point--while Justa Bob throws himself against his stall in sorrow at leaving his owner's tiny, wordless mother behind--this reviewer cried, "Shameless!" even as she began to tear up.) Improbably, it all works. Horse Heaven is a great, joyous, big-hearted entertainment, a stakes winner by any measure, and for both horse lovers and fans of Smiley's dry, character-based wit, a cause for celebration on par with winning the Triple Crown. --Mary Park --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I recommend this book to anyone who loves horses.
Now take into consideration that I am not only a very experienced horseperson (racing and hunter/jumper) but I have a degree in English Literature.
And the style of the book, the way the many characters come & go, well, that is a lot the way racing is, too.
This is a wonderful book, as are alj Jane Smiley's books .I read it quite a while ago, but it is so long -- and so heavy -- I found myself skipping around. Read morePublished 20 days ago by Lewis Samuels
I just love Jane Smiley's horse books. It's a very entertaining way of learning a lot about horses.Published 22 days ago by Dr. Cornelia Lind
Supreme writing, wonderful sense of capturing time, characters, and the uniqueness of the world that few people get to be part of ........the racetrack. Read morePublished 1 month ago by M. Lapos
Excellent, well written novel. I'm a horse person so I was hooked before I even opened the cover, but it was a great story which kept me interested through to the end.Published 2 months ago by smn
One of the best horse novels I have ever read and a great insight into the American racing circuitPublished 3 months ago by Ruth
For a horse lover who also loves superb writing and character development, this really is the greatest book ever written. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Lizzo
It was OK, and an easy read. But I felt it finished with unfinished stories. But it gave some good insights into the world of horse racing.Published 7 months ago by Jacqueline Blake
Fantastic read. Loved every moment. Horses, humans, love - and everything in between. Compelling characters and a truly satisfying ending.Published 7 months ago by E. Cowen
Gets to the heart of horses and thoroughbred racing, as well as human nature. Beautifully written and fascinating from start to finish.Published 9 months ago by Kit Carson, SMA, Mexico