Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's not a Friday, but it's a Book Review

I haven't read a horse-related book in a while (although if you need some YA recommendations, I have a new batch of those...), but someone recommended this one to me and it sounded intriguing.

Actually, what I heard - although in hindsight, I don't think it's what the recommender said - was that this is a true story. While it seems fairly probable that some of the events, particularly the racetrack-related bits, may be based on events that may have happened somewhere to someone, 12 Miles to Paradise is definitely NOT non-fiction. Still...

12 Miles to Paradise: a people story about horses & horseracing by Ted Simendinger
Briefly, this is the story of a race horse that refused to run and what happened next. And it's what happens next, both to a not very fast, but very stubborn Whodathunkit, that kept me turning pages.

Like Ferdinand the bull, who only wanted to smell the flowers and ended up affecting far more lives than he knew, a grey gelding re-dubbed Bonefish changes the course of events for the residents of one whole island and several more people on two different continents.

The premise is absurd, the action is flatly unbelievable... and yet there's a ring to the events surrounding Bonefish particularly that shines 24 carat. (My own family has tales of the backstretch that at first hearing are as oddly unlikely, so who am I to cast doubt.)

In spite of the somewhat rough and ready delivery and a choppy narration (peppered with numerous trivial details and off plot meanderings), it's oddly charming and pleasantly memorable.
Simendinger is a motivational speaker who's written one other book (humorous short stories about people & animals, based on the description). He doesn't claim horse-expertise, and his bio makes no reference to horses at all, so if there are a few gaffs perhaps it's not surprising. Is this the best horse book I've ever read? No. But it's entertaining in an offbeat, oddball way.

My recommendation: don't run right out and buy a copy, but if you happen across it at your local library or swap-shop, give it a chance. You may find yourself smiling.

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