WOW! I am so happy for her! My ex-husband studied with her at WMU, and we consumed gallons of slipovitz at her place discussing the world. She is a fantastic professor and writer. I can't wait to read the novel!
BAJ: In the fiction category this year, each of the novels seems heavily researched. What role does research play in your writing process?
JG: Doing far more textual research than I need is one of my favorite ways of avoiding writing, and so, for Medicine Ed, I read what I could find on root-working and spells. As for horse racing, I had worked as a groom at half-mile racetracks from 1967 until 1970, but I did do some field research for Lord of Misrule at Pimlico. Robert Meyerhoff, owner of Broad Brush among other fine horses, arranged for me to talk to his trainer, Richard Small.
I told Dick Small that I would like to talk to elderly black grooms who had been on the racetrack forever, and he sent me to Bubbles Riley, born in 1914, now age 96, one of the people to whom Lord of Misrule is dedicated. Bubbles had done much more than rub horses in his day, at West Virginia tracks as well as Pimlico, and he is far too foxy, worldly, gregarious, savvy in business, and downright postmodern to have been the model for Medicine Ed, but he told me hundreds of things I needed to know in the course of writing Lord of Misrule, and he still does.
Interesting in regards to the fictional track:
JG: ... the real setting of Lord of Misrule is the seedy half-mile racetrack itself, Indian Mound Downs. That little track never existed, but its backside probably has more in common with that of the long defunct Green Mountain Park Racetrack in Pownal, Vermont, than any West Virginia track.
Thanks, Glimmerglass. I saw The Lord of Misrule won the Natl Book Award, but the excerpt in the Washington Post made it seem like it was going to be one of those really depressing, look-what-awful-lives-these-horses-led books. So I was going to give it a pass.
But if there's root doctors in it, I'll have to read it.
I'm in SC (the same state Mr. Sweat grew up in, only he was from Holly Hill, in the Midlands, and I'm on the coast now.) Anyway, root magic is well known here. My brother once worked for a company that (carelessly) fired someone who had connections to a root doctor. They came in the next morning to find a dried turkey foot hanging over the front door.
Around here, a common expression, when one's day isn't going well, is "I reckon somebody's workin' a root on me."
Ok so I had to look it up: Hoodoo and root magic some rather unique regional stuff to be sure As that site says (and who knows how accurate it is) hoodoo is notvoodoo or santeria.
Thanks for the link. I've bookmarked it to go back and read thoroughly when I have more time. But that's how I've always understood root magic - it's not voodoo and certainly not santeria. Much more like folk magic.
I always wanted to name a horse "Conjure." Instead, I bought one already named Houdini. Maybe I could work conjure into a show name for him. If I showed, that is.
I picked up two copies the other day and consumed this book in an almost manic way. It was delicious.
It's not for everyone - the style of writing and dialogue could be confusing and for people not familiar with track language, I think it could be super-confusing. But I still loved it, it struck me as very real, and the language is beautiful in a gritty sort of way. It's a very rhythmic book, and while it's sort of depressing in some ways, it's not exactly an "oh! the poor horses!" sort of a book either.
Was just getting curious if anyone else had picked it up yet?
"smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"
And really liked it, even though I do not know a lot about thoroughbred racing. It may be a bit "raw" for some tastes, and certainly has some dark moments, but the writing is so vivid and the characters (including the horses) so "alive", I too could not put it down. I am giving copies to some horse friends and non-horse friends.
I loved it! It is not for everyone, as it is not your average feel-good, sob horse story, but what a great writer, and what a great story. Read it slowly and savor every word. There are not too many racing books that get into the souls of the characters, or represent backstretch people, like this writer does. It takes place in a different era, but the people (characters, really) could be transplanted to any racetrack in 2010 and fit right in
Definitely a keeper, I'll not be giving this one away!
Well I thought it was dreadful, just be advised while doing your shopping: this book is not going to please everyone. The language is pretentious, overly artistic and confusing. It was difficult to determine which character's mind we were inside of. I read a lot of novels but can be a cranky critic, and obviously am one here. It is not easy to read. I tossed it.
I have not yet made it past the first chapter. It is written with a lot of verbal detail and that is not my favorite reading. I am finding it tedious going.
I'm almost done the book, but I felt the same way when I started reading it. It didn't flow and it was awkward to read. After a few chapters I got more accustomed to the writing, and now I hate to put it down. I'm exhausted from work, but I really want to stay up and finish the book!
I just finished it and loved it. Yes, it can be chewy and dense in places, but I found that that just added to my savoring and enjoyment. And yes, it is a little dark. If you are looking for a conventional happy ending, you will be disappointed, but it resolves in its own, satisfying way.
There are tragic moments and transcendant moments both. The writer is excellent at putting us into the minds of humans and horses-- in fact, I can't remember the last novel I read that captures horses' characters so well.