rachel's Reviews > Pale Horse, Pale Rider

Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter
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's review
Jan 24, 2015

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2010, of-the-south-or-its-environs, this-is-america, lady-lit
Read from April 06 to 12, 2010

While all three novellas in this book are excellent, both "Noon Wine" and "Pale Horse, Pale Rider" quietly tragic, my heart belongs to "Old Mortality." The first story in the collection, it explores how a family's reverence for its past generations tends to be as romantic as it is based in reality. There's tragedy in this story too, but it's the everyday tragedy of unmet expectations.

"Pale Horse, Pale Rider" continues where "Old Mortality" left off, with the story of the family's youngest generation, Miranda, as she falls in love with a soldier and catches influenza during World War I. Her fever dreams are vividly rendered in stream of consciousness, making it sort of difficult at first to establish what is real. The romance at the core of the story is sweet and believable, but what I liked most about this story was how well Porter captured the personal pessimism of the World War I era. Even before the influenza kills one of the two lovers, it is openly assumed between Miranda and Adam that they have no future together, that he will die in the war or she will die of the illness.

The tragedy of "Noon Wine," the unrelated story in the collection, is the most violent and most (questionably) preventable. I saw a lot of echoes of Flannery O'Connor in this story, although it predates O'Connor by almost 20 years.

I would have loved any of these stories on their own. All together, they make for one of my favorite books of the year. I will be seeking out more of Porter's work for sure.
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Reading Progress

04/06 page 20
04/11 page 115
55.29% "This is wonderful."
02/28 marked as: read
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