Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Road from Gap Creek by Robert Morgan

The Road from Gap Creek by Robert Morgan continues the saga of the Richards family from his earlier book, Gap Creek. I thought I remembered Gap Creek from when I read it years ago, but it took a couple of chapters for me to relate these characters to those characters, in a good way. Richards gives the youngest daughter a voice in The Road from Gap Creek. In doing so, he reminds the reader that stories have multiple storytellers because each person living the story, lives their own version. Morgan writes from the point of view of a character whose grammar often left me wanting to grab a red pen and edit her, but the imperfect grammar is important here to distinguish the character, to make her more real, to set her in her times. The characters pulled me toward my roots, toward my self, toward a deeper understanding of my grandparents. The German Shepherd in the story had me in tears as I remembered times with my Border Collie growing up. This family felt like family. They felt like people I grew up with. They felt like people... real people, not characters. Morgan created a world filled with characters I genuinely empathized with and cared about.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Eclipse: The Horse That Changed Racing History Forever by Nicholas Clee

Eclipse: The Horse That Changed Racing History Forever by Nicholas Clee appealed to me because of its connection to the Kentucky Derby and especially to Secretariat. I've always had an affinity for horses because they are so graceful, beautiful, and strong. I studied the Kentucky Derby in school, but I never gave much thought to the history of horse racing. Eclipse reminded me that racing has a long and rather sordid history. Clee delves into the history of horse racing and doesn't shy away from presenting different oral histories that have been accepted even though they contradict one another. Eclipse in some ways reminded me of how easily stories are spread regardless of the truth and how those stories become folklore. The factual elements of Eclipse's story are fascinating and interesting even without the intrigue created by the stories surrounding him. Clee spends a tremendous amount of time focused on the people who surrounded Eclipse in an effort to not only explore Eclipse's descendants but also his ascendants. His examination pushes the reader to see Eclipse in context of both his time and in context of his contribution to the future of racing. The treatment of horses during the time period surrounding Eclipse made my heart ache. In today's world, we'd recognize the treatment as abuse yet I couldn't help but wonder if we haven't traded one set of abuses for another all in the name of entertainment. While Eclipse is definitely a history lesson, it's also an important examination of how the racing industry became what it is today as well as human attitudes toward the other beings with which we share the Earth.