Synopses & Reviews
Twenty-five years after Laughing in the Hills,
his racetrack classic, Bill Barich gives us anotherabout how he fell in love and found a new life in Dublin, where he was soon caught up in the Irish obsession with horses and luck.
At venues grand and lowly, Irelands steeplechase season hits its stride in October and reaches a crescendo at Englands Cheltenham Festival in March, when the Irish take on the Brits for bragging rights before a crowd of 50,000. To prepare himself for the fierce rivalry, Barich traveled his adopted country and met the leading trainers and jockeys; such champion jumpers as Florida Pearl and the quirky Moscow Flyer; the beleaguered bookies who work rain or shine; and a host of passionate, like-minded fansfrom Father Sean Breen, the “Racing Priest,” to T. P. Reilly, whose peculiar betting system turns on a horses looks.
Witty and philosophical, vividly written, A Fine Place to Daydream is a paean to the real Ireland, a moving account of a surprise romance, and the thrilling record of a hugely exciting season at the track.
"Barich, a former New Yorker writer, moves to Dublin after falling in love with an Irish woman, but shortly after his arrival he develops an (arguably) even stronger passion for gambling on Irish horse races. This obsession is an extension of his longstanding infatuation with the racetrack (which was the basis for his 1980 classic, Laughing at the Hills). But the steeplechase popular throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom is an entirely different type of race, where a horse's jumping skills matter as much as speed. Barich follows a steeplechase season from October to March, culminating in a weeklong series of races at Cheltenham, England, and consults as many horse trainers, jockeys, bookies and fellow fans as he can find to get the inside dope on how he should place his bets. His narrative is simple but elegant, and his language is erudite without being pretentious. (When he slips in an allusion to Ulysses, for example, it's so casual that it won't stop readers who don't catch it.) The book's setting may be exotic to American readers, but the sheer joy of being a sports fan will be familiar to many." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Twenty-five years after "Laughing in the Hills," Barich pens another racetrack classic, about how he fell in love and found a new life in Dublin, where he was soon caught up in the Irish obsession with horses and wagers. 45 photos.