The Lord of Misrule
Author: Jaimy Gordon
Welcome to the world of horse racing. This isn’t about the Kentucky Derby or any of popular races that we know about. No, this is a story at the bottom of horse racing at the track of Indian Mound Downs in West Virginia. Experience life on the racetrack for various characters from a veterinarian to a dangerous trainer that threatens the well-being of several people, to a girl that keeps up folks’ hopes and works as a hotwalker (person that cools down the horse after a workout or a race) and anything else that involves working with the horses. This will give you a personal, inside look at the gritty, and even a dark side, of horse racing. Trying to cheat the system, get the upper hand, and survive in this world where horses whose best running days are long lost are put up on the track.
This book became an instant classic for me. I don’t put classics in subcategories. Classics come from all over time. But anyway, a classic, yes. While the story took place in our modern time, the depth and detail really sunk in and I admired the way the book moved from one character’s POV to another. Each character had a different view of Indian Mound Downs and those that inhabited it, and that pulled me in even more because each character had opinions and even various ways of recognizing other characters, making them very independent of each and made the imagery extremely vivid for me.
The detail in Jaimy’s words envelop the senses, allowing you to feel like you are really there. You can feel the hot, humid air that stings your nose with horse manuer and sweat and see as these horses are pushed beyond their limits. She makes the senses tingle and capturing this sport from such an intense and unlikely angle that horse racing isn’t as glamorous as we believe it to be is what truly sparked my interest. It can make and break a person and horse over and over again. That and this was a gift from my professor, (by the way, thank you).
Before my brother and I were born, my mom worked on a racetrack. While the work was grueling, she loved it and wouldn’t have given it up for the world. I believe that if we hadn’t been born that’s where she’d still be today. That doesn’t make me upset. I’m thrilled by the thought because she had been so passionate about something. What does that have to do with this book? Well, this book gave me a glimpse at what it was like for her to work on a track, aside from the dark intentions of some characters. From the stories she’s told me, I imagine my mom to be much like Maggie from the book—in the aspect of working with horses that is.
This book was a challenge for me. There were no quotation marks to direct conversation between characters so I had to train my brain on reading the text without them. In my opinion people should find a book that challenges them every once in a while, give them a different and/or new angle to at life from. It’s part of the reason it took me so long to get this review up. This book was quite enjoyable and really kept me involved. I recommend it to anyone looking for a challenge.
“You can drink yourself to hell, Duecey said, and I know you will. I ain’t taking this horse.” (Duecey to Kidstuff, p. 68)
“I tell you a secret, horse racing is not no science. Some of em tries to make it a science, with the drugs and the chemicals and that, ma’fact it’s more like a religion. It’s a clouded thing. You can’t see through it. It come down to a person’s beliefs.” (Medicine Ed to Maggie, p. 83)