Jesse Hanson's Reviews > Pale Horse, Pale Rider

Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter
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's review
Feb 11, 11

really liked it
Read from January 06 to 30, 2011

I'm a horseman by birth (my older brother is an accomplished long distance rider) so this ghostly equestrian title kept popping out at me whenever I'd be browzing the quiet and narrow sacred halls of No Particular Library. In fact, the book has not much to do with horses, although it has some to do with them.
Katherine Anne Porter is a brilliant writer--I'd compare her easily to Steinbeck, with a distinctly feminine and completely unique style. She comes at each story from such an angle, through such a perspective, that the reader is thinking the story is going one way, when it is inevitably going another. My complaint--because I do have one--is that the result is inevitably bleak. Now, I haven't read any of her other work, but bleak is the very tone of Pale Horse, Pale Rider. I've said the same thing about Steinbeck, if you happen to have read my previous reviews.
It's just my personal opinion that we already know the world, that people in the world, and the things we do, are... well, the novels of the world hold all the adjectives about it, so for me to say bad, or ugly, or cruel... kind of redundant. Am I wrong in my perception that almost all (maybe not 100%) of the widely accepted, great works of literature, are utter tragedies? We revel in the gutter.
Well, back to the book at hand. It's three short novels in one book. The first, Old Mortality, starts out all girl stuff; the writing was excellent but stuffy (they were actually going through the old stored stuff of memories in an attic. I didn't like the title, Noon Wine, of the second story, so I went to the title story, Pale Horse... I loved it. Saw a completly different take on the civilian side of World War I than I had ever been told. That took me back to Old Mortality, which I then finished and really appreciated. By then, I was hooked and I read Noon Wine. I don't know if it was just the rural setting (I'm from North Dakota) or what, but this story was absolutely riveting for me.
So I probably seem out of integrity with only four stars. Well, I hate the stars--I've made no secret of it. But I see the purpose of life as a search for truth. Grandiose? Maybe. I don't care. So when tale after tale ends in dead end hopelessness, I don't see the art serving a useful enough function. Sorry Katherine, you're a better writer than me.
Reader, in my opinion you won't find many better written, in a unique, yet classic style, than Pale Horse, Pale rider.
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02/28 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Sherry (new)

Sherry Tucker Glad to read your review>having trouble reading great books of literature and you nailed it--(most all)"great works of literature are utter tragedies." I feel better just knowing someone else feels the same way. Thank uyou

Jesse Hanson Thank you very much Sherry, for taking the time to relate and comment. Much appreciated. I just read another of the most poignant tragedies--Bernard Malamud's God's Grace. I'll have to get around to writing a review at some point, though I'm way behind in that sort of thing.
I hope you won't mind my asking you to consider reading my own novel, Song of George: Portrait of an Unlikely Holy Man. I won't say whether it's a tragedy or comedy, but I will suggest that it's something else. (:<)>

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