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Pale Horse, Pale Rider (HBJ Modern Classic) Hardcover – June 18, 1990
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Contains three short novels, - Old Mortality, a story of race tracks, of the Deep South, of the survival and shattering of a family legend; Noon Wine, Texas and a dairy farm rescued from decay by a man who turns out to be an escaped lunatic from Dakota and of the tragedy that ended it all; Pale Horse, Pale Rider, a mystical story of the narrow ledge between life and death, set at the time of the flu epidemic. Stories which add new laurels to those Miss Porter has already acquired as one of the great stylists of today, in the Katharine Mansfield school. Simplicity, beauty, clarity, distinction and a sense of drama implicit in character and circumstance, mark her work. (Kirkus Reviews ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
"Most good stories are about the interior of our lives, but Katherine Anne Porter's stories take place there," said Eudora Welty. "They show surface only at her choosing."
Pale Horse, Pale Rider comprises three of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author's short novels or long stories, as Porter--who didn't hold with the term "novella"--called her pieces. In the masterly "Noon Wine," set on a Texas farm circa 1900, she offers an unforgettable study of evil. According to Reynolds Price the tale "can stand shoulder to shoulder with anything in Tolstoy or Chekhov." Both "Old Mortality" and the title story center on Porter's fictional counterpart, Miranda: a resilient Southern heroine who, as Mary Gordon observed, is in "the precarious position of a woman who must earn her way with no one behind her to break her fall."
"Many of Katherine Anne Porter's stories are unsurpassed in modern fiction," said Robert Penn Warren. "Miss Porter has the power that Chekhov or Frost or Ibsen, or sometimes Pound, has, the power to make the common thing glow with an Eden-like innocence." And The Saturday Review stated, "Porter moves in the illustrious company headed by Hawthorne, Flaubert, and Henry James."
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the publishers Boni and Liveright
and eight years later acquired by
Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editons of impor-tant works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House
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Top customer reviews
John Barry "The Great Influenza" (2003) (Quoting from Pale Horse, Pale Rider)
OLD MORTALITY explores how the influence of a dead family members can extend far beyond the dates of death; the sagas of their loves and lives touching the children of following generations. I found this tale of a proper Southern family harder to `get into' than the others, but very persuasive once absorbed. While not much about race, it certainly deals with social class and decadence, in a certain Southern literary tradition.
I liked the second story, NOON WINE, the best, a portrayal of a hard-working, tight-lipped Swedish-American workman from North Dakota who turns up on a hardscrabble Texas farm and stays working there for years. He slowly becomes a family member, bringing the farm to a semblance of prosperity, but never reveals his past. His only recreation is to play on a set of harmonicas; he knows but a single old Swedish song about people who drink before noon. A final twist of the tale brings death and loss of reputation.
The last offering, PALE HORSE, PALE RIDER, is a love story set during World War I and the influenza epidemic that swept the world then. Porter herself nearly died in Denver (scene of this story) of the same disease, so even though all the stories are drawn from her experience, this one must be the closest. We might describe PH,PR as a race between Love and Death, as Miranda fades into illness, cared for by a handsome soldier with whom she's in love. He goes off, preparing to go to Europe, she's hospitalized. The end is not what you'd think. Or maybe, it's precisely what you'd think if you find death romantic.
All three stories are excellent, with strong color and description, subtle changes in character and mood, interesting transformations; well-worth reading despite their age. Porter was no doubt one of the best writers working between 1935-1965 though she seems to have faded from the pantheon at the moment.