2010 National Book Award for Fiction Winner
||2011 Morning News Tournament of Books Nominee
Synopses & Reviews
At the rock-bottom end of the sport of kings sits the ruthless and often violent world of cheap horse racing, where trainers and jockeys, grooms and hotwalkers, loan sharks and touts are all struggling to take an edge, or prove their luck, or just survive. Equal parts Nathanael West, Damon Runyon and Eudora Welty, Lord of Misrule
follows five characters — scarred and lonely dreamers in the American grain — through a year and four races at Indian Mound Downs, downriver from Wheeling, West Virginia.
Horseman Tommy Hansel has a scheme to rescue his failing stable: He'll ship four unknown but ready horses to Indian Mound Downs, run them in cheap claiming races at long odds, and then gut out fast before anyone notices. The problem is, at this rundown riverfront half-maile racetrack in the Northern Panhandle, everybody notices — veteran groom Medicine Ed, Kidstuff the blacksmith, old lady "gyp" Deucey Gifford, stall superintendent Suitcase Smithers, eventually even the ruled-off "racetrack financier" Two-Tie and the ominous leading trainer, Joe Dale Bigg. But no one bothers to factor in Tommy Hansel's go-fer girlfriend, Maggie Koderer. Like the beautiful, used-up, tragic horses she comes to love, Maggie has just enough heart to wire everyone's flagging hopes back to the source of all luck.
"Gordon has completely mastered the language of the racetrack, and formed it into an evocative and idiosyncratic style... [E]ach voice dips into racetrack lingo in a distinctive way. It is an impressive performance." Washington Post
"A novel of luck, pluck, farce and above all horse racing... Exceptional writing and idiosyncratic characters make this an engaging read." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
Lord of Misrule is a darkly realistic novel about a young woman living through a year of horse racing at a half-mile track in West Virginia, while everyone's best laid schemes keep going brutally wrong. With her first novel since her acclaimed Bogeywoman (1999), Jaimy Gordon bears comparison to other great writers of the American demimonde, such as Nathanael West, Damon Runyon, and Eudora Welty.
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION
"Lord of Misrule" is a darkly realistic novel about a young woman living through a year of horse racing at a half-mile track in West Virginia, while everyone's best laid schemes keep going brutally wrong. With her first novel since her acclaimed "Bogeywoman" (1999), Jaimy Gordon bears comparison to other great writers of the American demimonde, such as Nathanael West, Damon Runyon, and Eudora Welty.
About the Author
Jaimy Gordon was born in Baltimore, took degrees from Antioch College and Brown University, and now teaches at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. In addition to two novels, she has published poetry, plays, short stories, and essays. With Peter Blickle, she has translated several works of Maria Beig from the German.