Likely Stories -- On Swift Horses by Shannon Pufahl
Rousing story of a woman who loves horses
I’m Jim McKeown. Welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
Shannon Pufahl grew up in rural Kansas. She teaches at Stanford University. She lives in Monterey, California. On Swift Horses is her first novel.
On Swift Horses is comprised of ten chapters. I will begin with ‘The Sea.’ “At the Heyday Lounge the horsemen think they are the only gamblers. // They speak openly because they believe the lounge owner to be simple—which is true—and Muriel, their waitress these long mornings, to be a woman and therefore incapable of both memory and complex reasoning” (3). Muriel is young and newly wed to Lee. Then, in early December, Muriel has a night off from the restaurant but tells Lee she’s working. // She smokes and looks around as if she is waiting for someone” (4-5).
“At the turnstile she crowds in with another woman and two men. // From the stands the horses are not what she imagined. They are tall and obdurate and only lightly controlled. A dozen of them are paced out and lined behind the gates. [ ] Across the field the stables are lined in courtly rows,. The smell of the dirt and the stables and the wheaty smell of the grass are familiar to her, though from the sea comes a pinkish wind. (5-6).
“For a long time she watched without seeing any woman approach the glass and she begins to worry that perhaps she is not allowed to bet at all. The horses rear in their gates. Their bridles clang against the gates and sound like vespers. Then the gunshot and the race begins” Lee says, ‘You should have worn a sweater.’ (6-7) 5 Stars!
On Swift Horses is a wonderful start to a young writer’s career for Shannon Pufahl. 5 Stars!
Likely Stories is a production of KWBU. I’m Jim McKeown. Join me again next time, and happy racing!