Cover image for Horse heaven
Title:
Horse heaven
Author:
Smiley, Jane.
Personal Author:
Edition:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Thorndike, Me. : Thorndike Press, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
915 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780786227938

9780786227945
Format :
Book

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Central Library X Adult Large Print - Floating collection Floating Collection - Large Print
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Summary

Summary

"It's not true", says a character in Jane Smiley's funny, passionate, and brilliant new novel of horse racing, "that anything can happen at the racetrack", but many astonishing and affecting things do -- and in Horse Heaven, we find them woven into a marvelous tapestry of joy and love, chicanery, folly, greed, and derring-do. The strange, compelling, sparkling and mysterious universe of horse racing that has fascinated generations has never before been depicted with such verve and originality, such tenderness, such clarity, and, above all, such sheer exuberance.


Author Notes

Jane Smiley was born in Los Angeles, California on September 26, 1949. She received a B. A. from Vassar College in 1971 and an M.F.A. and a Ph.D from the University of Iowa. From 1981 to 1996, she taught undergraduate and graduate creative writing workshops at Iowa State University. Her books include The Age of Grief, The Greenlanders, Moo, Horse Heaven, Ordinary Love and Good Will, Some Luck, and Early Warning. In 1985, she won an O. Henry Award for her short story Lily, which was published in The Atlantic Monthly. A Thousand Acres received both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Jane Smiley was born in Los Angeles, California on September 26, 1949. She received a B. A. from Vassar College in 1971 and an M.F.A. and a Ph.D from the University of Iowa. From 1981 to 1996, she taught undergraduate and graduate creative writing workshops at Iowa State University. Her books include The Age of Grief, The Greenlanders, Moo, Horse Heaven, Ordinary Love and Good Will, Some Luck, and Early Warning. In 1985, she won an O. Henry Award for her short story Lily, which was published in The Atlantic Monthly. A Thousand Acres received both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 6

Booklist Review

Smiley's horses almost steal the show from the humans in this symphonic celebration of the byzantine world of thoroughbred horse racing--although a mischievous Jack Russell terrier named Eileen rules supreme whenever the all-seeing narrative eye pans her way. And she's easy to remember. Smiley challenges her readers by introducing new characters in nearly every chapter, from rich and troubled owners to eccentric and troubled trainers; nervous fillies and scampish stallions; a boy with the gift for picking winners; an articulate, horse-crazy 11-year-old girl; a gorgeous store clerk who catches the eye of a wealthy rap star then goes horse-crazy; horse-crazy Irish cousins; an animal communicator who can tune into a horse's stream of consciousness; a kind horse masseur; a calm and creative veterinarian; and a young mother trying valiantly to run her grandfather's stud farm. The list goes on and on, bewilderingly so, and, like a rebellious colt in training, it takes a while for this many-faceted tale to settle down. But eventually, like horse and rider, book and reader do establish a rapport and find a rhythm, and all the disparate story lines start to connect. Meanwhile, Smiley enriches her electrifying and at times melodramatic tale of two years on the thoroughbred racing circuit with a wealth of intimate knowledge about horse breeding, training, and racing, not to mention sensuous description and supple human and equine psychology. And there's more. As involved in metaphysics as she in horse racing, Smiley explores a Zen approach to life, a giving over to chance and the quest for balance between obsession and detachment. This is indeed a big, busy, book, but there is peace at its center. --Donna Seaman


Publisher's Weekly Review

The Chinese calendar aside, 2000 may be the Year of the Horse. Almost neck and neck with Alyson Hagy's Keeneland, this novel about horses and their breeders, owners, trainers, grooms, jockeys, traders, bettors and other turf-obsessed humans is another winner. Smiley, it turns out, knows a prodigious amount about Thoroughbreds, and she is as good at describing the stages of their lives, their temperaments and personalities as she is in chronicling the ambitions, financial windfalls and ruins, love affairs, partings and reconciliations of her large cast of human characters. With settings that range from California and Kentucky to Paris, the novel covers two years in which the players vie with each other to produce a mount that can win high-stakes races. Readers will discover that hundreds of things can go wrong with a horse, from breeding through birth, training and racing, and that every race has variables and hazards that can produce danger and death, as well as the loss of millions of dollars. (A scene in which one horse stumbles and sets off a chain reaction of carnage is heartbreaking.) Characters who plan, scheme, connive and yearn for a winner include several greedy, impetuous millionaires and their wives; one trainer who is a model of rectitude, and another who has found Jesus but is crooked to the core; two preadolescent, horse-obsessed kids; a knockout black woman whose beauty is the entrance key to the racing world; the horses themselves (cleverly, Smiley depicts a horse communicator who can see into the equine mind); and one very sassy Jack Russell dog. Written with high spirits and enthusiasm, distinguished by Smiley's wry humor (as in Moo), the novel gallops into the home stretch without losing momentum. Fans of A Thousand Acres may feel that Smiley has deserted the realm of serious literature for suspense and romance, but this highly readable novel shows that she can perform in both genres with ‚lan. 150,000 first printing; 15-city author tour; Random House audio. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Smiley, author of nine earlier works of fiction including The Age of Grief and A Thousand Acres (a Pulitzer Prize winner), has written the Gone with the Wind of horse books. Those involved in the equestrian world will experience a thrill of recognition when hearing about the various types of trainers, owners, and, of course, the horses themselves. The trainers include a Zen practitioner who considers each horse a koan to be solved; a crooked trainer who gets religion and repents, however briefly; and a married trainer who falls in love with the wife of an owner. The horses are a rogue stallion, a timid mare, and an amazingly focused gelding named Limitless. The horses and people are both talented and flawed yet all find redemption. Mary Beth Hurt is an exceptional reader. Highly recommended for all public libraries.ÄPatsy Gray, Huntsville P.L., AL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist Review

Smiley's horses almost steal the show from the humans in this symphonic celebration of the byzantine world of thoroughbred horse racing--although a mischievous Jack Russell terrier named Eileen rules supreme whenever the all-seeing narrative eye pans her way. And she's easy to remember. Smiley challenges her readers by introducing new characters in nearly every chapter, from rich and troubled owners to eccentric and troubled trainers; nervous fillies and scampish stallions; a boy with the gift for picking winners; an articulate, horse-crazy 11-year-old girl; a gorgeous store clerk who catches the eye of a wealthy rap star then goes horse-crazy; horse-crazy Irish cousins; an animal communicator who can tune into a horse's stream of consciousness; a kind horse masseur; a calm and creative veterinarian; and a young mother trying valiantly to run her grandfather's stud farm. The list goes on and on, bewilderingly so, and, like a rebellious colt in training, it takes a while for this many-faceted tale to settle down. But eventually, like horse and rider, book and reader do establish a rapport and find a rhythm, and all the disparate story lines start to connect. Meanwhile, Smiley enriches her electrifying and at times melodramatic tale of two years on the thoroughbred racing circuit with a wealth of intimate knowledge about horse breeding, training, and racing, not to mention sensuous description and supple human and equine psychology. And there's more. As involved in metaphysics as she in horse racing, Smiley explores a Zen approach to life, a giving over to chance and the quest for balance between obsession and detachment. This is indeed a big, busy, book, but there is peace at its center. --Donna Seaman


Publisher's Weekly Review

The Chinese calendar aside, 2000 may be the Year of the Horse. Almost neck and neck with Alyson Hagy's Keeneland, this novel about horses and their breeders, owners, trainers, grooms, jockeys, traders, bettors and other turf-obsessed humans is another winner. Smiley, it turns out, knows a prodigious amount about Thoroughbreds, and she is as good at describing the stages of their lives, their temperaments and personalities as she is in chronicling the ambitions, financial windfalls and ruins, love affairs, partings and reconciliations of her large cast of human characters. With settings that range from California and Kentucky to Paris, the novel covers two years in which the players vie with each other to produce a mount that can win high-stakes races. Readers will discover that hundreds of things can go wrong with a horse, from breeding through birth, training and racing, and that every race has variables and hazards that can produce danger and death, as well as the loss of millions of dollars. (A scene in which one horse stumbles and sets off a chain reaction of carnage is heartbreaking.) Characters who plan, scheme, connive and yearn for a winner include several greedy, impetuous millionaires and their wives; one trainer who is a model of rectitude, and another who has found Jesus but is crooked to the core; two preadolescent, horse-obsessed kids; a knockout black woman whose beauty is the entrance key to the racing world; the horses themselves (cleverly, Smiley depicts a horse communicator who can see into the equine mind); and one very sassy Jack Russell dog. Written with high spirits and enthusiasm, distinguished by Smiley's wry humor (as in Moo), the novel gallops into the home stretch without losing momentum. Fans of A Thousand Acres may feel that Smiley has deserted the realm of serious literature for suspense and romance, but this highly readable novel shows that she can perform in both genres with ‚lan. 150,000 first printing; 15-city author tour; Random House audio. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Smiley, author of nine earlier works of fiction including The Age of Grief and A Thousand Acres (a Pulitzer Prize winner), has written the Gone with the Wind of horse books. Those involved in the equestrian world will experience a thrill of recognition when hearing about the various types of trainers, owners, and, of course, the horses themselves. The trainers include a Zen practitioner who considers each horse a koan to be solved; a crooked trainer who gets religion and repents, however briefly; and a married trainer who falls in love with the wife of an owner. The horses are a rogue stallion, a timid mare, and an amazingly focused gelding named Limitless. The horses and people are both talented and flawed yet all find redemption. Mary Beth Hurt is an exceptional reader. Highly recommended for all public libraries.ÄPatsy Gray, Huntsville P.L., AL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

november 1 / JACK RUSSELL On the second Sunday morning in November, the day after the Breeders' Cup at Hollywood Park (which he did not get to this year, because the trek to the West Coast seemed a long one from Westchester County and he didn't have a runner, had never had a runner, how could this possibly be his fault, hadn't he spent millions breeding, training, and running horses? Wasn't it time he had a runner in the Breeders' Cup or got out of the game altogether, one or the other?), Alexander P. Maybrick arose from his marriage bed at 6:00 a.m., put on his robe and slippers, and exited the master suite he shared with his wife, Rosalind. On the way to the kitchen, he passed the library, his office that adjoined the library, the weight room, the guest bathroom, the living room, and the dining room. In every room his wife had laid a Persian carpet of exceptional quality--his wife had an eye for quality in all things--and it seemed like every Persian carpet in every room every morning was adorned with tiny dark, dense turds deposited there by Eileen, the Jack Russell terrier. Eileen herself was nestled up in bed with his wife, apparently sleeping, since she didn't raise even her head when Mr. Maybrick arose, but Mr. Maybrick knew she was faking. No Jack Russell sleeps though movement of any kind except as a ruse. Mr. Maybrick had discussed this issue with Rosalind on many levels. It was not as though he didn't know what a Jack Russell was all about when Rosalind brought the dog home. A Jack Russell was about making noise, killing small animals and dragging their carcasses into the house, attacking much larger dogs, refusing to be house-trained, and in all other ways living a primitive life. Rosalind had promised to start the puppy off properly, with a kennel and a trainer and a strict routine and a book about Jack Russells, and every other thing that worked with golden retrievers and great Danes and mastiffs, and dogs in general. But Eileen wasn't a dog, she was a beast, and the trainer had been able to do only one thing with her, which was stop her from barking. And thank God for that, because if the trainer had not stopped Eileen from barking Mr. Maybrick would have had to strangle her. Rosalind, who sent her underwear to the cleaners and had the windows washed every two weeks and kept the oven spotless enough to sterilize surgical instruments, tried to take the position that the turds were small and harmless, and that the carpets could handle them, but really she just thought the dog was cute, even after Eileen learned to jump from the floor to the kitchen counters, and then walked around on them with her primevally dirty feet, click click click, right in front of Mr. Maybrick, even after Eileen began to sleep under the covers, pushing her wiry, unsoft coat right into Mr. Maybrick's nose in the middle of the night. "Do you know where this dog has been?" Mr. Maybrick would say to Rosalind, and Rosalind would reply, "I don't want to think about that." Mr. Maybrick was a wealthy and powerful man, and in the end, that was what stopped him. He knew that, in the larger scheme of things, he had been so successful, and, in many ways, so unpleasant about it all (he was a screamer and a bully, tough on everyone), that Eileen had come into his life as a corrective. She weighed one-twentieth of what he did. He could crush her between his two fists. He could also get rid of her, either by yelling at his wife or by sending her off to the SPCA on his own, but he dared not. There was some abyss of megalomania that Eileen guarded the edge of for Mr. Maybrick, and in the mornings, when he walked to the kitchen to get his coffee, he tried to remember that. The first thing Mr. Maybrick did after he poured his coffee was to call his horse-trainer. When the trainer answered with his usual "Hey, there!," Mr. Maybrick said, "Dick!," and then Dick said, "Oh. Al." He always said it just like that, as if he were expecting something good to happen, and Mr. Maybrick had happened instead. Mr. Maybrick ignored this and sipped his coffee while Dick punched up his response. "Can I do something for you, Al?" "Yeah. You can put that Laurita filly in the allowance race on Thursday." "You've got a condition book, then." "Oh, sure. I want to know what races are being run. You trainers keep everything so dark--" "Well, sure. Al, listen--" "Dick, Frank Henderson thinks it's the perfect race for her. A little step up in class, but not too much competi--" "I'll see." "I want to do it. Henderson said--" "Mr. Henderson--" "Frank Henderson knows horses and racing, right? His filly won the Kentucky Oaks last year, right? He would have had that other horse in the sprint yesterday if it hadn't broken down. Listen to me, Dick. I shouldn't have to beg you." This was more or less a threat, and as he said it, not having actually intended to, Mr. Maybrick reflected upon how true it was. He was the owner. Dick Winterson was the trainer. The relationship was a simple one. Henderson was always telling him not to be intimidated by trainers. "We'll see." "You always say that. Look, I don't want to watch the Breeders' Cup on TV again next year. Henderson thinks this filly's got class." "She does, but I want to go slow with her. We have to see how the filly--" Mr. Maybrick hung up. He didn't slam down the phone--he no longer did that--he simply hung up. If Dick had known him as long as Mr. Maybrick had known himself, he would have realized what a good thing it was, simply hanging up. And here was another thing he could use with his wife. He could say that if he didn't have to pass all those turds in the morning he could start off calmer and his capacity for accepting frustration would last a little longer. It was scientific. When they didn't have the dog, he had gotten practically to the fourth phone call without offending anyone. Now he got maybe to the second. He took another sip of his coffee, and called his broker, then his partner, then his general manager, then his other partner, then his secretary, then his broker again, then his AA sponsor (who was still in bed). This guy's name was Harold W., and he was a proctologist as well as an alcoholic. Mr. Maybrick had chosen him because he was a man of infinite patience and because he knew everything there was to know about prostate glands. "I want a drink," said Mr. Maybrick. "There's turds all over the house. I bet you can understand that one." "Good morning, Al. What's really up? You haven't had a drink in two years." "But I'm always on the verge. It's a real struggle with me." "Say your serenity prayer." "God--" "God--" They said the serenity prayer together. "Look," said Al, "I got this pain in my groin--" "No freebies. That's the rule. My partner will be happy to--" "It's like water trickling out of a hose. I can't--" "You need to be working on your fourth step." "What's that one again?" "Taking a fearless inventory of your character defects." "Oh, yeah." "Trying to get something for nothing is one of your character defects." "I never pay retail." "Then you need to work on your third step, Al." "What's that one?" "Turning your life over to your higher power." Mr. Maybrick cleared his throat, as he always did when someone said those higher-power words. Those words always made an image of Ralph Peters come into his head, the guy who used to be head of the Mercantile Exchange in Chicago, and who foiled the Hunt brothers when they tried to corner the silver market back in '80. Peters was an Austrian guy. He had "higher power" written all over him, and he was the last guy Mr. Maybrick had ever feared. He would never turn his life over to Peters. Harold went on, "Let's think a little more about the last day. What about rage? Have you been raging?" "Well, sure. A guy in my posi--" "Should be filled with gratitude. Your position is a gratitude position. Thank you, God, for every frustration, every bad deal, every monetary loss, every balk and obstacle and resistance." Harold often teased him in this way. Mr. Maybrick felt better for it, because it made him think Harold W. liked him after all, and it reminded him, too, of when his old man had been in a good mood. Joshing him. "Every non-cooperator, every son of a bitch, every idiot who gets in my way, every slow driver, every--" "Okay." "I've got to go to the hospital." "But I-- There's wine in the liquor cabinet." "Throw it out. I've got to go. The assholes are accumulating." Mr. Maybrick laughed. Harold W. laughed, too. Harold W. wasn't a saint, by any means. He had been in AA for thirty-two years, at a meeting almost every day. Mr. Maybrick didn't know whether to respect that or have contempt for it, but he knew for a fact that Harold W. was a force to be reckoned with, and he thanked him politely, ragelessly, and hung up the phone. Now Eileen trotted into the room. It was clear to Mr. Maybrick that the dog was intentionally ignoring him. She clicked over to her bowl and checked it, took a drink from the water dish, circumnavigated the cooking island, and then, casually, leapt onto the granite counter and trotted toward the sink. "Get down, Eileen," said Mr. Maybrick. It was as if he hadn't spoken. Eileen cocked her little tan head and peered into the garbage disposal, noting that the stopper was in place. Her little stump of a tail flicked a couple of times, and she seemed to squat down. She stretched her paw toward the stopper, but her legs were too short; she couldn't reach it. She surveyed the situation for a moment, then went behind the sink, picked up a pinecone that had been hidden there, and jumped down. Only now did she look at Mr. Maybrick. She dropped the pinecone at his slippered feet and backed up three steps, her snapping black gaze boring into his. "I don't want to do that, Eileen," he said. Her strategy was to take little steps backward and forward and then spin in a tight circle, gesturing at the pinecone with her nose. But she never made a sound. "You're not a retriever, Eileen, you're a terrier. Go outside and kill something." Indeed, Eileen was a terrier, and with terrier determination, she resolved that Mr. Maybrick would ultimately throw the pinecone. She continued dancing, every few seconds picking up the pinecone and dropping it again. She was getting cuter and cuter. That was her weapon. Mr. Maybrick considered her a very manipulative animal. He looked away from her and took another sip of his (third) cup of coffee. Now she barked once, and when he looked at her, she went up on her hind legs. She had thighs like a wrestler--she seemed to float. Mr. Maybrick had often thought that a horse as athletic as this worthless dog would get into the Kentucky Derby, then the Breeders' Cup, win him ten million dollars on the track, and earn him five million a year in the breeding shed for, say, twenty years. That was $110 million; it had happened to others. He had been racing and breeding horses for eleven years, and it had never happened to him. This was just the sort of thing that made you a little resentful, and rightfully so, whatever Harold W. had to say about gratitude. He closed his eyes when he felt himself sliding that way, beginning to count up the millions he had spent running horses and thinking about deserving. With his eyes closed, Al could hear her drop the pinecone rhythmically on the tile, chock chock chock chock, the bass, her little toenails clicking a tune around it. Didn't he deserve a really big horse? Didn't he? And then, while his eyes were still closed, dog and pinecone arrived suddenly in his lap, a hard, dense little weight but live, electric. With the shock, he nearly dropped his coffee cup, and as it was, spilled on the counter. "God damn it!" he shouted. Eileen jumped down and trotted away. "Hey! Come here, Eileen," he said. "Eileen!" Eileen sheared off into the living room, and he realized that he had forgotten to let her out. Mr. Maybrick put his arms up on the counter and laid his head upon them. From the Trade Paperback edition. Excerpted from Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
november 1 / JACK RUSSELL On the second Sunday morning in November, the day after the Breeders' Cup at Hollywood Park (which he did not get to this year, because the trek to the West Coast seemed a long one from Westchester County and he didn't have a runner, had never had a runner, how could this possibly be his fault, hadn't he spent millions breeding, training, and running horses? Wasn't it time he had a runner in the Breeders' Cup or got out of the game altogether, one or the other?), Alexander P. Maybrick arose from his marriage bed at 6:00 a.m., put on his robe and slippers, and exited the master suite he shared with his wife, Rosalind. On the way to the kitchen, he passed the library, his office that adjoined the library, the weight room, the guest bathroom, the living room, and the dining room. In every room his wife had laid a Persian carpet of exceptional quality--his wife had an eye for quality in all things--and it seemed like every Persian carpet in every room every morning was adorned with tiny dark, dense turds deposited there by Eileen, the Jack Russell terrier. Eileen herself was nestled up in bed with his wife, apparently sleeping, since she didn't raise even her head when Mr. Maybrick arose, but Mr. Maybrick knew she was faking. No Jack Russell sleeps though movement of any kind except as a ruse. Mr. Maybrick had discussed this issue with Rosalind on many levels. It was not as though he didn't know what a Jack Russell was all about when Rosalind brought the dog home. A Jack Russell was about making noise, killing small animals and dragging their carcasses into the house, attacking much larger dogs, refusing to be house-trained, and in all other ways living a primitive life. Rosalind had promised to start the puppy off properly, with a kennel and a trainer and a strict routine and a book about Jack Russells, and every other thing that worked with golden retrievers and great Danes and mastiffs, and dogs in general. But Eileen wasn't a dog, she was a beast, and the trainer had been able to do only one thing with her, which was stop her from barking. And thank God for that, because if the trainer had not stopped Eileen from barking Mr. Maybrick would have had to strangle her. Rosalind, who sent her underwear to the cleaners and had the windows washed every two weeks and kept the oven spotless enough to sterilize surgical instruments, tried to take the position that the turds were small and harmless, and that the carpets could handle them, but really she just thought the dog was cute, even after Eileen learned to jump from the floor to the kitchen counters, and then walked around on them with her primevally dirty feet, click click click, right in front of Mr. Maybrick, even after Eileen began to sleep under the covers, pushing her wiry, unsoft coat right into Mr. Maybrick's nose in the middle of the night. "Do you know where this dog has been?" Mr. Maybrick would say to Rosalind, and Rosalind would reply, "I don't want to think about that." Mr. Maybrick was a wealthy and powerful man, and in the end, that was what stopped him. He knew that, in the larger scheme of things, he had been so successful, and, in many ways, so unpleasant about it all (he was a screamer and a bully, tough on everyone), that Eileen had come into his life as a corrective. She weighed one-twentieth of what he did. He could crush her between his two fists. He could also get rid of her, either by yelling at his wife or by sending her off to the SPCA on his own, but he dared not. There was some abyss of megalomania that Eileen guarded the edge of for Mr. Maybrick, and in the mornings, when he walked to the kitchen to get his coffee, he tried to remember that. The first thing Mr. Maybrick did after he poured his coffee was to call his horse-trainer. When the trainer answered with his usual "Hey, there!," Mr. Maybrick said, "Dick!," and then Dick said, "Oh. Al." He always said it just like that, as if he were expecting something good to happen, and Mr. Maybrick had happened instead. Mr. Maybrick ignored this and sipped his coffee while Dick punched up his response. "Can I do something for you, Al?" "Yeah. You can put that Laurita filly in the allowance race on Thursday." "You've got a condition book, then." "Oh, sure. I want to know what races are being run. You trainers keep everything so dark--" "Well, sure. Al, listen--" "Dick, Frank Henderson thinks it's the perfect race for her. A little step up in class, but not too much competi--" "I'll see." "I want to do it. Henderson said--" "Mr. Henderson--" "Frank Henderson knows horses and racing, right? His filly won the Kentucky Oaks last year, right? He would have had that other horse in the sprint yesterday if it hadn't broken down. Listen to me, Dick. I shouldn't have to beg you." This was more or less a threat, and as he said it, not having actually intended to, Mr. Maybrick reflected upon how true it was. He was the owner. Dick Winterson was the trainer. The relationship was a simple one. Henderson was always telling him not to be intimidated by trainers. "We'll see." "You always say that. Look, I don't want to watch the Breeders' Cup on TV again next year. Henderson thinks this filly's got class." "She does, but I want to go slow with her. We have to see how the filly--" Mr. Maybrick hung up. He didn't slam down the phone--he no longer did that--he simply hung up. If Dick had known him as long as Mr. Maybrick had known himself, he would have realized what a good thing it was, simply hanging up. And here was another thing he could use with his wife. He could say that if he didn't have to pass all those turds in the morning he could start off calmer and his capacity for accepting frustration would last a little longer. It was scientific. When they didn't have the dog, he had gotten practically to the fourth phone call without offending anyone. Now he got maybe to the second. He took another sip of his coffee, and called his broker, then his partner, then his general manager, then his other partner, then his secretary, then his broker again, then his AA sponsor (who was still in bed). This guy's name was Harold W., and he was a proctologist as well as an alcoholic. Mr. Maybrick had chosen him because he was a man of infinite patience and because he knew everything there was to know about prostate glands. "I want a drink," said Mr. Maybrick. "There's turds all over the house. I bet you can understand that one." "Good morning, Al. What's really up? You haven't had a drink in two years." "But I'm always on the verge. It's a real struggle with me." "Say your serenity prayer." "God--" "God--" They said the serenity prayer together. "Look," said Al, "I got this pain in my groin--" "No freebies. That's the rule. My partner will be happy to--" "It's like water trickling out of a hose. I can't--" "You need to be working on your fourth step." "What's that one again?" "Taking a fearless inventory of your character defects." "Oh, yeah." "Trying to get something for nothing is one of your character defects." "I never pay retail." "Then you need to work on your third step, Al." "What's that one?" "Turning your life over to your higher power." Mr. Maybrick cleared his throat, as he always did when someone said those higher-power words. Those words always made an image of Ralph Peters come into his head, the guy who used to be head of the Mercantile Exchange in Chicago, and who foiled the Hunt brothers when they tried to corner the silver market back in '80. Peters was an Austrian guy. He had "higher power" written all over him, and he was the last guy Mr. Maybrick had ever feared. He would never turn his life over to Peters. Harold went on, "Let's think a little more about the last day. What about rage? Have you been raging?" "Well, sure. A guy in my posi--" "Should be filled with gratitude. Your position is a gratitude position. Thank you, God, for every frustration, every bad deal, every monetary loss, every balk and obstacle and resistance." Harold often teased him in this way. Mr. Maybrick felt better for it, because it made him think Harold W. liked him after all, and it reminded him, too, of when his old man had been in a good mood. Joshing him. "Every non-cooperator, every son of a bitch, every idiot who gets in my way, every slow driver, every--" "Okay." "I've got to go to the hospital." "But I-- There's wine in the liquor cabinet." "Throw it out. I've got to go. The assholes are accumulating." Mr. Maybrick laughed. Harold W. laughed, too. Harold W. wasn't a saint, by any means. He had been in AA for thirty-two years, at a meeting almost every day. Mr. Maybrick didn't know whether to respect that or have contempt for it, but he knew for a fact that Harold W. was a force to be reckoned with, and he thanked him politely, ragelessly, and hung up the phone. Now Eileen trotted into the room. It was clear to Mr. Maybrick that the dog was intentionally ignoring him. She clicked over to her bowl and checked it, took a drink from the water dish, circumnavigated the cooking island, and then, casually, leapt onto the granite counter and trotted toward the sink. "Get down, Eileen," said Mr. Maybrick. It was as if he hadn't spoken. Eileen cocked her little tan head and peered into the garbage disposal, noting that the stopper was in place. Her little stump of a tail flicked a couple of times, and she seemed to squat down. She stretched her paw toward the stopper, but her legs were too short; she couldn't reach it. She surveyed the situation for a moment, then went behind the sink, picked up a pinecone that had been hidden there, and jumped down. Only now did she look at Mr. Maybrick. She dropped the pinecone at his slippered feet and backed up three steps, her snapping black gaze boring into his. "I don't want to do that, Eileen," he said. Her strategy was to take little steps backward and forward and then spin in a tight circle, gesturing at the pinecone with her nose. But she never made a sound. "You're not a retriever, Eileen, you're a terrier. Go outside and kill something." Indeed, Eileen was a terrier, and with terrier determination, she resolved that Mr. Maybrick would ultimately throw the pinecone. She continued dancing, every few seconds picking up the pinecone and dropping it again. She was getting cuter and cuter. That was her weapon. Mr. Maybrick considered her a very manipulative animal. He looked away from her and took another sip of his (third) cup of coffee. Now she barked once, and when he looked at her, she went up on her hind legs. She had thighs like a wrestler--she seemed to float. Mr. Maybrick had often thought that a horse as athletic as this worthless dog would get into the Kentucky Derby, then the Breeders' Cup, win him ten million dollars on the track, and earn him five million a year in the breeding shed for, say, twenty years. That was $110 million; it had happened to others. He had been racing and breeding horses for eleven years, and it had never happened to him. This was just the sort of thing that made you a little resentful, and rightfully so, whatever Harold W. had to say about gratitude. He closed his eyes when he felt himself sliding that way, beginning to count up the millions he had spent running horses and thinking about deserving. With his eyes closed, Al could hear her drop the pinecone rhythmically on the tile, chock chock chock chock, the bass, her little toenails clicking a tune around it. Didn't he deserve a really big horse? Didn't he? And then, while his eyes were still closed, dog and pinecone arrived suddenly in his lap, a hard, dense little weight but live, electric. With the shock, he nearly dropped his coffee cup, and as it was, spilled on the counter. "God damn it!" he shouted. Eileen jumped down and trotted away. "Hey! Come here, Eileen," he said. "Eileen!" Eileen sheared off into the living room, and he realized that he had forgotten to let her out. Mr. Maybrick put his arms up on the counter and laid his head upon them. From the Trade Paperback edition. Excerpted from Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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