Sunny's bookshelf
Sunny's bookshelf photo by Judy Solomon

Online book reviews since 2011, the very best in reviewing – connecting good readers with equally good writers

Lord of Misrule

Sign up to receive our latest reviews by email

Jaimy Gordon’s Lord of Misrule is a novel about horse racing at a small time track in West Virginia, where worn-out horses, trainers, jockeys, grooms and an unsavory host of two-bit gangsters run for the last of their dreams. Lord of Misrule is a breed all its own. If what we read gains in popularity because it tells a story about the world in which we live, then Gordon has performed something of a fait accompli with the assumption that her readers, if not a part of that world of horse racing, are at least wannabes.

As wild as Ms. Gordon’s use of language is, she holds a pretty tight rein on where the story is headed. The novel is divvied up into four races, each named for the horse that is expected to win, depending on the betting and doping deals already settled before post time. The first race is Mr. Boll Weevil; second is Little Spinoza; third is Pelzer; and fourth is the title horse, Lord of Misrule. We are not at Sunnybrook Farm and Rebecca is nowhere in sight. Instead there is Medicine Ed a 72 year old groom who is the novel’s mythic and mystic voice; Tommy (The Fool) who mistakenly believes that sex, horses and money are all that’s necessary to control the chaos in his life; Maggie (The Frizzly Haired Girl) who is getting by, falling in love with Tommy, and with horses, but never sure how she arrived at this place; Deucey, the crew-cut “hag” who trains and cares for her own horse; and a cast of petty thugs and gangsters straight out of Guys and Dolls.

The author deftly crab-steps her way through the narrative with omniscient author and second person points of view . It’s the second person narrator, speaking directly to a character, that draws the reader most closely to the characters. Gordon also has an eye and heart for descriptive details a lesser novelist might miss: “Two-Tie picked up Elizabeth’s leash, which nowadays he mainly carried, waiting for her to catch up with him . . . and she followed along after him, toenails tapping as if she was blind as well as old . . .” Sizing up (or down) Little Spinoza’s post gelded condition, the narrator surprises the reader with: An old gelding always seemed to her as complex as Disraeli.”

As in every horse story set at a track, it all comes down to one race and one horse. In this story, it comes down to Lord of Misrule a dark and dangerous old veteran. Gordon names her characters, people and animals, not indiscriminately. Misrule is the last to appear and his presence gives new meaning to race results. The losers are not mourned and the winners can only be called survivors. I doubt if the world of Lord of Misrule is quite our world, but it’s a world worth a visit.

2 Responses

  1. i really want to be a writer someday but unfortunately i dont have the skills and ideas on writing :D..

Add your thoughts and comments...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this Review
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

Related Reviews

Billy Blaster and the Robot Army from Outer Space

Billy Blaster

BILLY BLASTER AND THE ROBOT ARMY FROM OUTER SPACE – not necessarily a graphic novel only for the younger reader. No matter how old you

Read More »
Sisters in Arms

Sisters in Arms

  Sisters in Arms – Kaia Alderson introduces a subset of a distinct group of WWII women deployed overseas during the war. Welcome to the

Read More »
The Honey Jar

The Honey Jar

The Honey Jar, An Armenian’s Escape to Freedom, is Joan Schoettler’s captivating tale of a young boy’s 1920, escape from his war-torn home in Armenia.

Read More »

About the Reviewer

Sign up for reviews by email

You’ll get email updates from Bookin’ with Sunny when we add a new review or blog post, and we never share your email with anyone else.

Shopping in-store Fun!

Support your local community’s economic growth by shopping for books at your independent bookstore in person, online at their website, or by phone.