Sunday, September 14, 2008
Many rationalists might not buy it, but I think most human beings believe animals share some of our more noble traits. We think of certain species as emblematic of higher, more regal emotions or aspirations: dogs evince loyalty, elephants demonstrate mourning, cats share our inquisitive nature and our ability to recover from catastrophe and land on our feet. Other species show these traits, perhaps in smaller measure. Horses share with humans one of the rarest traits: our desire for glory, for eternal renown.* It takes a fine writer like John Hawkes to see this and form a wonderful short novel about it.
Like humans, horses can renounce glory or ride its fiery impulses to fame or failure. Oh, Sweet William!
I had this book for a long time, and would periodically pick it up and think "This is the only extant John Hawkes book I haven't read. Should I use it now, or save it for later?" 15 years of delayed gratification paid off.
*I worked a summer on a horse farm as a child. I know of what I speak.
PS--It took me more than 2 weeks to read a 270 page novel. That really shows how little free time I have now.