Monthly Archives: September 2007

More Countdowns

As of this moment during which I write, there’s 30 days, 3 hours, 59 minutes and 27 seconds– whoops, make that 22 — no wait, 5 seconds!– until the Breeders Cup in October, and there’s plenty of intel out there about which horse can do what. Man, it must get heart-breaking to be a trainer and and owner: the horse that was doing so well suddently develops a bad habit or changes her mind about where she wants to put her feet. That’s why we have to keep up on it if we want to know what’s going on. I like all that track talk, the famiilar, slangy punditry that has morphed over the years along with the rest of the English language (alas, I’m mono-lingual. I don’t know how they talk about le cheval in France). It’s so ango-saxon! I think. Did the anglo-saxons race horses? Sure they did, if they had ’em to race. It’s got to be pure human nature to find other animals that go like the wind and then jump on the backs of those animals — or make machines that go like the wind. But machines don’t ound and thunder on four legs (of course), and the horses headed for the Breeder’s Cup do.

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Interred with their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell

I like a swash-bucklin’ woman, which is exactly how the protagonist, Kate Stanley, shows the reader her mettle in the first chapter of this book of deception, mystery, bad Jacobeans, and the theatre. Kate is a young American woman with an academic background who has said Goodbye To All That in order to follow her bliss for the stage and Shakespeare.  That’s all well and good until her former mentor shows up with a mysterious request, then the rebuilt Globe Theatre burns down, and then the mentor shows up again — except dead this time.

Kate gets herself in trouble deep by withholding evidence from the inspectors more capable of this line of work than she is. But at a critical moment, whilst being attacked by a mystery man with evil on his mind, she meets a buff stranger, the nephew of the deceased, who is skilled in multiple arts of war and who has been sent to protect her.  *Sigh.*  Don’t you wish you had a buff stranger who leaps in to run interference for you?  I wish I did. Some gals have all the luck.

The past and the present merge.  In England, the bad blood between families never EVER dies. Neither do the words of the immortal Bard who is quoted liberally within these pages. And author Jennifer Lee Carrell, armed with her doctorate and good writing credentials, has penned a fun thriller.

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On Borrowed Wings by Chandra Prasad

When a woman dons the clothes of a man and dresses against her sex, she not only disguises herself but she does indeed take on the power and the position of the rightful owner of those garments. It’s like Halloween, when you dress as your favorite superhero or princess or whatever and for a time (at least when you are a child and still able to inhabit your imagination to its fullest), you are that personage.

Adele Pietra, daughter of stone cuttes and younger sister of a Yale-bound man, becomes her brother in order to fullfil the promise that his death left open. Not only does she rise above her station in the dark days of the Great Depression, but she lives behind Adele to become Charles and to earn the education that should have been hers by the right of her natural intellect and intelligence.

The unlikely supporter of this deception is her mother — unlikely because Adele’s unhappy and disapointed mother doesn’t seem to like her very much, let alone be willing to put up with the work and stress of launching her daughter on an insane plan that’s doomed to failure at any moment.

Fortunately for Adele, young men and young women, as unalike as they are in hormones, are enough alike to for her to pass as her brother, and thus begin her adventures.

Chandra Prasad is a gifted writer. She fully fleshes out the character of Adele and her school mates. I’m especially glad that Prasad doesn’t give Adele any kind of squeamishness about sex (Yes, men and women even back in those almsot forgotten times were aware of and wished to act upon their feelings and desires). Adele knows what she wants, but also knows that getting it isn’t going to be at all easy.

Adele’s mother,is, however, a cipher. Too mean to be believable, her various twists and turns are functions of the plot and do not grow organically from the character. Adele’s classmates fade into the background at times, and I wished to see and understand more about Jerry Persky, another outsider at Yale. There were a few too many college escapades that did not move the plot along but seem to exist as set pieces without really being of much use to the plot. Not so Adele’s friendship with a working-class family, which does indeed require the protagonist to look at herself and evaluate her world.

Chandra Prasad is a good writer with a great future ahead of her. She will learn more as she goes along writing about what she needs to say, and she will learn to say it clearly and closer to her own heart.

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No Event for Me

They say the shortest distance between two points is a straight line (or not) and often this is the case in narrative as well.  Others promote the concept of starting at the beginning, and then going straight on until the end and then stopping (and that might have been the Mad Hatter — or the White Queen?). If I tried to start at the beginning, we’d be here all day. 

 Suffice it to say that due to a broken trailer hitch, things did not go as planned for some participants.  The trailer hitch broke 4-5 miles from the barn as our convoy headed out.   We were fortunate that it happened at a stop sign in a small town rather than out on the krAZy I-270 loop.  We were blessed that the breakdown occured near a highway construction site and that a friendly worker with a pickup was able to trailer the horses back home.  Oh, another good thing was that one of the other partcipants and I walked over to one of those small “outpost” McDonald’s  across the street to get away from the confusions, the phone calls, the policeman directing traffic, etc., and to eat Egg McMuffins. And coffee.  It was still only just past 8:00 a.m.

It all got sorted out (who was going to ride in what where with whom and also the why and how). We all went back home to the barn for the reconfiguration.  Since there was only room in the barn trailer for four horses and since the broken one carried only two — and one of them was the mount of 1/2 of the Classic Pearls who were scheduled to ride, the other half (me) was made to understand that she would have to stay behind as well.  I blush to admit that at first, I didn’t understand and thought I’d be able to go anyway. But as soon as I savvied the logistics, I saw the lay of the land.  So the Classic Pearls hung out at the barn and rode around in the bottom land near the creek after grooming our confused but willing horses.  The weather was perfect and as always, we had a nice talk.  I like to think that I interupted a spook or two from Mo, and in all it was a relaxing ride.

I’ve had two not-so-hot firsts with horse stuff — my first (and possibly last) horse that I owned myself got sick right away, was too much for me, etc., and my first event was a non-event.  But I’ve been through the five (is it five?) stages of grief over the thing. Next year?  Maybe, maybe not. It sure would be nice to get a small party together and go ride in one of the metro parks (there’s two, each within about 10-15 miles of the barn), but I have no trailering abilities nor the technology.

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