Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Sport of Kings

The Sport of KingsThe Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a great big tremendous sprawl of a novel about Kentucky thoroughbred racing, genetics, consanguinity, slavery, prison time, Cincinnati, bluegrass country and the Ohio River with some of most striking prose I've read in a long time. There are murders and revenge and love and incest across many generations. Survival is registered in different ways. I couldn't put it down but sometimes it took some pushing to pick it up. The book club struggled and agreed a tougher editor was needed but the writing took my breath away:

"The air was raucous and thick with birdsong, the afternoon's light refracted through a veil of pollen...cattle, sturdy on their legs and fattening...chewed their cud with the resignation of age... The youngest Miller...a girl of seven with violently red hair, a face mottled with freckles, and knees as fat as pickle jars."
Description of the Ohio River: "La belle riviere: the Great, the Sparkling, the White; coursing along the path of the ancient Teays, the child of Pleistocene glaciers and a thousand forgotten creeks run dry, formed in perpetuity by the confluence of two prattling streams, ancient predecessors of the Kentucky and Licking--maternal and paternal themes in the long tale of how the river became dream, conduit, divide, pawn, baptismal font, gate, graveyard, and snake slithering under a shelf of limestone and shale, where just now a boy is held aloft by his beautiful father, who points and says, "Look!" and the boy looks, and what he will remember later is not just the river like a snake but also the city crowding it, and what a city! A queen rising on seven hills over her Tiber, ringed hills forming the circlet of a crown. "

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