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Ride a Cockhorse

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  295 ratings  ·  68 reviews
A revolution is under way at a once sleepy New England bank. Forty-five-year-old Frances Fitzgibbons has gone from sweet-tempered loan officer to insatiable force of nature almost overnight. Suddenly she’s brazenly seducing the high-school drum major, taking over her boss’s office, firing anyone who crosses her, inspiring populist fervor, and publicly announcing plans to c ...more
Paperback, New York Review Books Classics, 307 pages
Published June 19th 2012 by NYRB Classics (first published May 29th 1991)
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3.50  · 
Rating details
 ·  295 ratings  ·  68 reviews


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David
Aug 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
I'm convinced that there is a discrete outpost within the southern climes of my stomach— approximately the size of an average avocado pit—where my loathing resides. In this theory, my loathing, in its neutral state, is a congealed knob of greenish wax-like substance which radiates a faint, mostly evenly-distributed rancor throughout my body. It isn't an assertive affect—just a general disposition which can be given in to or overcome (with effort) as one wishes.

But certain stimuli have the power,
...more
Tony
Jun 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Frankie Fitzsgibbons, at 46, has undergone an unexplained change in personality. It is not that she is recently widowed. She says of her late husband, “Larry didn’t die. … He just slowed down terrifically.” Nor is it that she can’t abide her daughter, whose lack of fashion sense and left-wing save-the-world politics nauseate her.

Overnight, seemingly, she decides to take over the bank where she has worked reservedly for years as a loan officer. She makes up for the lost time with Larry by seduci
...more
Moira Russell
Jun 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
A revolution is under way at a once sleepy New England bank. Forty-five-year-old Frances Fitzgibbons has gone from sweet-tempered loan officer to insatiable force of nature almost overnight. Suddenly she’s brazenly seducing the high-school drum major, taking over her boss’s office, firing anyone who crosses her, inspiring populist fervor, and publicly announcing plans to crush her local rivals en route to dominating the entire banking industry in the northeast. The terrifying new order institute ...more
George Ilsley
Nov 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Can't remember where I saw this book described as a forgotten classic, a ribald satire, etc. Unfortunately, I couldn't wait for it to end. It lost me about half way through. Looking back, I can see it is a satire of insanity in banking, and how people are willing to overlook outrageous behaviour "as long as we are making money." For me, the antics were too broad and it was beyond satire, verging into the slapstick. Also, there were some failed details -- the worst being the graffiti above the ur ...more
Ronald Morton
Nov 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nyrb
It's probably because most of the books I read and log on GR tend to have a very small number of reviews - so the sampling is super wonky - but I'm pretty much without fail amused at readers reactions to nyrb selections. It's almost always this disparate melange of glowing reviews and utter bewilderment (or just straight contempt) - scrolling through them almost always reminds me in some small way why I dislike mostly everyone I know. Hyperbolic? I don't know, maybe - I should probably just trea ...more
David
Jan 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: big-white-square
This was nuts. Mrs Fitzgibbons' tits do something on almost every page.

Bits:
"'what the hell do I care? I didn't make the world.'"

"'The only thing that would make your father turn over in his grave would be if the television set was behind him.'"

On Terry's penis:
"'You've never seen anything like it in your life. It's a work of art. You couldn't dent it with a hammer.'"

"'Eddie is a peeping Tom," Matthew explained pleasantly.
'Oh, I see!' Dolores brightened happily over that.'"

"In fact, amid the gru
...more
Gina
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-reads
I picked up this book because Slate ran a short piece by James Parker comparing the novel's protagonist Frances “Frankie” Fitzgibbons to Sarah Palin. Of course Parker overstates his case (as he freely admits) but I'm kind of glad he did, because his review intrigued me, and I immediately ordered the book from Powells, and quickly read it.

I loved the tight time frame that allowed the action to unfold like in a Greek tragedy, and Kennedy's characters were deftly drawn. Fitzgibbons is a character s
...more
Daniel Polansky
Revelatory. The description of how a post-menopausal bank clerk, through amorality and sheer personal brutality, swiftly amasses an empire, Ride a Cockhorse is at once a hysterical and an intensely disturbing vision of the rise of fascism. I am burying my political convictions deep in the second paragraph of a blog which no one reads when I say that the personal style of the antihero, which consists of gross dishonesty expressed in a contemptuous and exaggerated masculinity, is one which presag ...more
Marc
Aug 26, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Call me a nattering nabob of negativism, but I didn't find a whit of humor in this sad tale. Yes, I know it's satire, but what exactly was Kennedy satirizing: insane sociopaths who take over local banks by ruthlessly destroying other peoples livelihoods and lives?

This was simply a painful read with few redeeming literary qualities.
Proustitute
Jan 12, 2006 rated it did not like it
Full disclosure: I gave up on this novel halfway through; with that said, I���m still marking it as read���I feel as if I have read it as, at the point at which I threw in the towel, the monotony and repetitive dialogue and almost predictable rise-in-the-chain-of-command ascendancy of Frankie Fitzgibbons made me feel as if I had the end of the novel pretty well nailed. (Of course, I now wonder how the novel does end: perhaps it ends (view spoiler) ...more
Chuck LoPresti
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read in a single stab - this is more fierce than funny. Possibly the result of developing a brain tumor while masturbating to Femdom porn and listening to Ayn Rand books on tape at the same time - Frankie goes apeshit banking power mad overnight and you get to experience it all with her in slightly less than amazing detail. This book made me think about things I don't like to think about too often because I'm never quite confident or proud of my initial reactions to such situations. I write and ...more
Pamfrommd
Aug 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few years ago I read, somewhere out there in the vast Interwebs, something positive about this book. So I ordered a copy and it sat unread until last week when I took it on a beach trip. Maybe it was the perfect Atlantic Ocean days on the Delaware shoreline, but I enjoyed the book thoroughly. About half-way through I began to realize that the main character was shockingly similar to an old boss of mine. Not in all ways of course because the plot is quite outrageous; the book is silly in a 1930 ...more
Stephen Lovely
I thought this novel was hilarious, and that Frankie Fitzgibbons, a formerly sedate home loan officer who goes on a manic rampage and commandeers a small town bank, was deliciously entertaining. The novel gets a bit tiresome, as it probably must, since Frankie's mania gives her such an inflated sense of her own command of language that she rants virtually nonstop throughout the novel, and she can't help repeating herself. Still, a very funny look at the way people are drawn to, and seduced by, a ...more
Bj Strickland
After the big buildup for this book from the New York Review Books and Ms. Katherine A. Powers, I expected more from this book. I did not find any humor in it. No comedy. Nothing rollicking about it. It is a sad story about a woman whose mind goes over the edge and a lot of things happen before she is ... well, I don't think "helped" is the right word. I do not understand what those who praise this see in it but then I'm also one of those who saw nothing attractive in "Terms of Endearment" or "T ...more
Hoolie
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love that people think this book is sexist. This protagonist is Trump 2016 just in the body of a forty year old woman with wide hips good legs and a healthy C cup. Think Helena Bonam Carter. Instead of the stage called our US presidential election, she gets her rocks off a small town bank; terror-inspiring her co-workers and sycophants, controlling the media, gaining more and more followers, crushing rival bankers, and dominating upper management. (You won't believe how far she goes). Are you ...more
Karen
Jul 23, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book because a reviewer I appreciate said it was one of the funniest books he'd ever read, but I cannot agree. I found it meanspirited and ridiculous but not in a funny way. I'd rather read something by Prachett, Bryson or Kroese anyday.
Steven Drachman
Sep 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that you push on people that you know, that you buy as gifts. I rated this last year, and I see now that it has been republished, and given the recognition as a classic that it deserves.
ʚϊɞ Shelley ʚϊɞ
It was so hard to finish this book. It was the same thing over and over again and again. It could have been the same book at 100 pages. I did not find it funny at all, it was rather sad in fact. I wish there was an option for zero stars.
Gale Pearson
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How can one be both appalled and enthralled by the protagonist? The author painted a great picture and I couldn't put it down, even when I was ashamed to be reading this. It's actually quite humorous and sad at the same time.
Stan Lanier
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a hilarious, and pensive, tale. I'm delighted I found it.
Don
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
This is one of the funniest books I've read in quite a while, as well as the best novel about banking ever.
Damon Suede
Feb 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dark. Funny. Vicious. Hyperbolic. Kennedy nails these characters with warmth and style.
Diane Knox
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Interesting premise that tried way to hard to shock. It felt like the author had no idea how to end the story. Also way too many characters and in depth descriptions to keep track of or care about.
Ann
Jul 13, 2012 marked it as abandoned-with-cause
Oh man. NYRB has never let me down before. I got halfway through this and realized it was just making me angry and making me hate the world. No lols at all.
Anastasia
Aug 02, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be wildly irritating & anti-feminist, but interestingly, some of the book club found it to be the opposite.
Deandra K.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Charles
Oct 29, 2018 rated it liked it
***1/2 stars. This sometimes rollicking, sometimes aggravating account of a vulgar, mentally ill woman's fascist takeover of the small-town bank she works for through shameless mendacity, bullying, preening self-confidence, and a relentless will to power is a chilling, provocative read for our present situation. A brutal satire of the American habit of turning capitalists into authoritarian heroes.
Karmen
Dec 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
Couldn’t finish - well written and a great commentary on monomaniacal behavior.
Marco Kaye
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Re-reading one of my favorite books of all time and it is just as amazing as the first.
John Frazier
Three or four weeks after closing this book for good and I'm still trying to figure out what it is/was and what it was trying to be. Is it some sort of cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for? Or is it just a light-hearted romp through one woman's mid-life crisis that's really not as funny as it's purported to be? Both? Neither?

"Frankie" Fitzgibbons is in her mid-40s when, one day, she decides that the world is hers and it's time that the world knew it. She starts by seducing the d
...more
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NYRB Classics: Ride a Cockhorse, by Raymond Kennedy 1 6 Oct 30, 2013 11:58AM  

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