The Literary Horse: Great Modern Stories about Horses

Lilly Golden, Editor Atlantic Monthly Press $22 (303p) ISBN 978-0-87113-595-7
Distinguished mainly by readability rather than literary quality, the stories in this piebald anthology will undoubtedly appeal to horse lovers. Although Steinbeck and Kipling are included (the former with the mandatory classic, ``The Red Pony''), few other vintage authors are among the 22 represented here. The middle rank of writers have less distinguished pieces, with weak efforts from Patricia Highsmith, Beryl Markham, Saki and Topper-creator Lorne Smith, whose fantasy of a man who awakes as a horse goes on too long for the slim comic premise. Some of the best tales come from Kay Boyle, Joyce Cary, William Saroyan and John O'Hara (O'Hara's account of a drifting ostler whose livelihood is doomed by the advent of the automobile is a laconic but moving elegy). Wallace Stegner's depiction of a boy's introduction to life's realities in ``The Colt'' is reminiscent of the Steinbeck tale but stands on its own. Among stories by such contemporary writers as Gretl Ehrlich, James Salter and Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, there are two standouts: Pam Houston's ``What Shock Heard,'' a story of courtship conducted almost entirely by horseback, and ``Wild Horses,'' Rick Bass's tale of horsebreaking and broken hearts. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
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