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The Sport of Kings (2016)

Tekijä: C. E. Morgan

Muut tekijät: Katso muut tekijät -osio.

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
4312258,624 (3.52)51
"Hellsmouth, a willful thoroughbred filly with the blood of Triple Crown winners flowing through her veins, has the legacy of the Forges riding on her. One of the oldest and proudest families in Kentucky, the Forge family is as mythic as the history of the South itself. Descended from one of the first settlers to brave the Gap, Henry Forge, through an act of naked ambition, is attempting to blaze a new path, breeding horses on the family's crop farm. His daughter, Henrietta, becomes his partner in the endeavor, although she has desires of her own. Their conflict escalates when Allmon Shaughnessy, a black man fresh from prison, comes to work in the stables, and the ugliness of the farm's past and the exigencies of appetite become evident. Together, the three stubbornly try to create a new future through sheer will--one that isn't written in their very fabric--while they mold Hellsmouth into a champion.The Sport of Kings has the grace of a parable and the force of an epic. A majestic story of speed and hunger, racism and justice, this novel is an astonishment from start to finish. A vital new voice, C. E. Morgan has crafted an American myth, a contemporary portrait of the scars of the past that run through a family, and of our desperate need to escape our history, to subsume it with pleasure--or to rise above it with glory"-- "A contemporary portrait of a family subsumed by the scars of slavery"--… (lisätietoja)
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» Katso myös 51 mainintaa

Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 22) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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. " ( )
  featherbooks | May 7, 2024 |
It was an awful lot of verbiage. Somewhere in the middle of this verbose novel, set in the borderlands of the slavery-haunted South, the author unexpectedly turns meta and writes,
Or is all this too purple, too florid? Is more too much - the world and the words? Do you prefer your tales lean, muscular, and dry, leached of excess and honed to a single, digestible point? Have I exceeded the bounds of the form, committed a literary sin? I say there's no such thing - any striving is calcined ash before the heat of the ever-expanding world, its interminability and brightness, which is neither yours nor mine. There aren't too many words; there aren't enough words; ten thousand books, all the world's dictionaries and there would never be enough; we're infants before the Ohio coursing its ancient way, the icy display of aurora borealis and the redundancies of the night sky, the flakes of snow common and heartbreaking...
Well, yes, I understand that confronted by the ineffable timelessness of this world (and the horrors it contains) that it seems one could pour word after word in perpetuity down its black mouth and never fill it, but it did become too much for me, actually. The whole novel is a lot of a muchness, certainly in flowing florid authorial musing, and in the end in plot development, in which incest gets thrown in to the mix not because it is actually needed to add depth or propulsion but because when you're going for too much muchness, you've simply got to have some incest in there somewhere.

Yet the novel has plenty going for it, still. Morgan pins her native state of Kentucky to the examination table and dissects it with clear eyed animus. A provocative parallel is drawn between slavery and modern horse racing, with the latter an outlet for continuing notions of eugenics and purity through forced breeding and a hateful expression of innate superiority that warps the soul. And if Henry Forge's late conversion from hard racist to gentle humanitarian seems a tad too easily won, at least the triggering mechanism is believable, and the change satisfying. ( )
  lelandleslie | Feb 24, 2024 |
Ballsy.

Morgan writes a book that in many ways parallels the filly at the forefront of the tale. It starts from behind in the sense the reader isn't quite sure what kind of writer this is going to be or whether the book is really going to engage. But before you know it, the plot is galloping along full bore, and suddenly you, as a reader, have a sensation that the whole thing could derail. It's as though the author has so many talents that she doesn't know which ones to bring to bear and when, making the whole novel simultaneously brilliant and terribly flawed. Honestly, it felt a little bit like reading a collaboration of V.C. Andrews, the screen writers for "Dallas" and Wallace Stegner, or perhaps James Michener. Yeah, hard to imagine, right?

To further complicate matters, the themes are big ones - - power, racism, sexism, and family. Morgan also spans huge chunks of time so there's a sense that the book is epic in scope.

I'd say there's a five star book in here, but I don't really think there is. What there is, is a five star author who when she harnesses her power and exercises a little more restraint, is going to write something super brilliant, and I'm excited to see what it is. Hopefully she didn't exhaust herself completely with this effort.

The plot really focuses on three main characters, Henry, his daughter, Henrietta, and Allmon, a groom. We get the back story on all three, and the characters are all interesting if not terribly likable. Henry, going against the wishes of his father, turns his inherited farm into a horse breeding facility, and he sees Henrietta as the heir to all he has worked for and the family name. Henrietta seems compliant, but is in fact, pretty wild and rebellious, and this rebellion ensnares Allmon in a pretty untenable situation. Something he is familiar with because nothing in his life has gone well, and I do mean nothing.

The critic in me wasn't totally wild about the long passages of description which are beautifully rendered, but would have been more impactful in smaller doses. The author really shows her talents here, but it does slow the pace and make you want to skim.

This book won the Kirkus Prize for Fiction in 2016. It was up against the nominees listed here: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/2016-kirkus-prize-finalists/. I've only read two of the books on the list. I most certainly think this one was much better than [b:The Underground Railroad|30555488|The Underground Railroad|Colson Whitehead|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1493178362s/30555488.jpg|48287641] which addresses similar subject matter in many ways, although perhaps harder to get through due to the length and some of the description. [b:A Gentleman in Moscow|29430012|A Gentleman in Moscow|Amor Towles|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1459524472s/29430012.jpg|45743836] was tighter and more polished, and for me, more enjoyable to read overall. But this author absolutely is showing more flashes of brilliance and potential so I can see why this one won.

This book would be outstanding for a book club discussion, but unfortunately, half the club probably won't finish it.



( )
  Anita_Pomerantz | Mar 23, 2023 |
I found this book very dark and depressing. The title is a bit misleading, as horse racing is only a backdrop for a story of the Forge family and their former slaves' history, and Henry Forge's desire to build a legacy. There are many triggers in this book including racism, slavery, abuse of children, women and animals, rape, incest, suicide, drugs, language and stereotyping. The characters are well-drawn, but not particularly likeable. It appears to be an ambitious effort to write an epic; however, there are many paragraphs that seem unnecessary, with nonsequiturs thrown in occasionally. I am sure the author had a good reason for these passages, but I could not discern it. ( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
Depressing and melodramatic for the most part. Bright spots were where we were given information about racehorses: care, training from foal to three-year old and how much and what goes into horseracing itself. ( )
  janerawoof | May 10, 2022 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 22) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
Given this state of political affairs, it seems strange that conservative characters are seldom given serious treatment in contemporary American literary fiction. Even less often is this ideology depicted through its true believers and enforcers: the wealthy and the upper-middle class.

*

One rare exception is C.E. Morgan’s prizewinning 2016 novel The Sport of Kings, in which Henry Forge—the conservative, racist heir to a large slaveholding fortune—is a main protagonist.
 
This novel is about horse racing the way Moby-Dick is about a whale; it has a similarly expansive scope, spiritual seriousness and density of grand themes. Shortlisted for the Pulitzer and now the Baileys prize, Morgan’s epic work builds to a climactic series of dramatic race scenes featuring a star filly named Hellsmouth. Along the way, Morgan wrestles with subjects including the history of Kentucky, slavery and its legacies, the iniquities of American healthcare, Darwinism, geology and relations between the sexes. In the maximalist stakes, Morgan’s novel is a muscular, confident entry....As the story heats up, so does Morgan’s dense and complex language
 
No dead horse has been more thoroughly flogged than the Great American Novel, yet C E Morgan, undeterred, has coaxed the poor animal into unexpected resurrection, leading it up onto its shaking legs and into a full-blooded gallop. The Sport of Kings is a novel ostensibly about horse racing, but it is competing for much higher stakes. Morgan has dared to write the kind of book that was presumed long extinct: a high literary epic of America.....Beneath the ostentatious prose, Morgan is a good old-fashioned storyteller, knowing what to withhold and what to reveal.
 

» Lisää muita tekijöitä (3 mahdollista)

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Morgan, C. E.Tekijäensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetvahvistettu
Newbern, GeorgeKertojamuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu

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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (1)

"Hellsmouth, a willful thoroughbred filly with the blood of Triple Crown winners flowing through her veins, has the legacy of the Forges riding on her. One of the oldest and proudest families in Kentucky, the Forge family is as mythic as the history of the South itself. Descended from one of the first settlers to brave the Gap, Henry Forge, through an act of naked ambition, is attempting to blaze a new path, breeding horses on the family's crop farm. His daughter, Henrietta, becomes his partner in the endeavor, although she has desires of her own. Their conflict escalates when Allmon Shaughnessy, a black man fresh from prison, comes to work in the stables, and the ugliness of the farm's past and the exigencies of appetite become evident. Together, the three stubbornly try to create a new future through sheer will--one that isn't written in their very fabric--while they mold Hellsmouth into a champion.The Sport of Kings has the grace of a parable and the force of an epic. A majestic story of speed and hunger, racism and justice, this novel is an astonishment from start to finish. A vital new voice, C. E. Morgan has crafted an American myth, a contemporary portrait of the scars of the past that run through a family, and of our desperate need to escape our history, to subsume it with pleasure--or to rise above it with glory"-- "A contemporary portrait of a family subsumed by the scars of slavery"--

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