cover image Funerals for Horses

Funerals for Horses

Catherine Ryan Hyde. Russian Hill Press, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-9653524-3-7

Equine funerals help frame this brutally lyrical first novel, a tale of sibling loyalty, madness, pain and redemption. The first is that of a stuffed animal after the suicide of narrator Ella Ginsberg's sister, who was 11 when she hanged herself. The other is that of a game horse that carries Ella on a mission of rescue and self-discovery. Ella's brother Simon vanishes in the desert two months shy of his 43rd birthday, leaving his clothes and personal effects strewn next to a railroad track. His disappearance is made more inexplicable by the fact that he had always been the rock of the family, the one who held the highly dysfunctional unit together. Ella sets out to find him, tracking him across the Navajo reservation in Arizona. Meanwhile, she also journeys back through her pained memories, piecing together the sad events of their childhood. Ultimately, she finds that the years of control necessary to maintain an emotional equilibrium have been too much for Simon, who finally snapped, and that she--seemingly most damaged--has been the unacknowledged source of strength. In this restrained but compelling narrative, Hyde movingly conveys the toll of years of emotional damage. (May)