Sweet William: A Memoir of Old Horse

John Hawkes, Author Simon & Schuster $19.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-74057-3
In a highly imaginative and compelling work fully in character with his reputation as a literary maverick, Hawkes ( Adventures in the Alaskan Skin Trade ) offers a fascinating new perspective on the mix of instinct, emotion, reflex and reason that is the birthright of all intelligent life. Using the wise, weary voice of a misanthropic thoroughbred--known in various stages of his life as Sweet William, Old Horse and Petrarch--Hawkes fashions an engaging, picaresque tale of his equine narrator's triumphs, hardships and discoveries. Soon after William's birth, his dam dies a horrible death. This tragedy, combined with the inept responses of the humans in charge and the indifference of his surrogate mother, warps Sweet William's character and provokes in him a violent, rebellious streak that will bring him no end of tribulation. Now, tempered by hard-earned wisdom and hindsight, William reflects on his life--as a young colt, a racehorse, a riding-school nag and finally as the haggard mount of an eccentric old man he calls ``Master.'' He is a captivating storyteller whose experience and insight are valuable for readers of all species. Employing an uncharacteristically courtly tone that may surprise his longtime readers, Hawkes fills this account with rich color and winning detail; indeed, this is a virtuoso performance, with William's voice rendered in masterful prose. ( Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
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