Coal Black Horse
At fourteen, wearing the coat his mother sewed to ensure his safety—blue on one side, gray on the other— Robey thinks he's off on a great adventure. But not far from ...more
Robey Childs’s mother had a dream that Stonewall Jackson had died. In her mind, if Jackson was dead, then the war was ove ...more
Off goes the boy and his horse to a war because his mother said so.
“Thomas Jackson has been killed,” she finally said. “There’s no sense in this continuing.” She paused and sought words to fashion her thoughts. “This was a mistake a long time before we knew it, but a mistake nonetheless. Go and find your father and bring him back to his home.”...more
Her words were as if come through time and she was an old mother and the ancient woman.
Where will I find him?” he asked, unfolding his shoulders and set
He writes about a boy's mother and his father. His father is off in the civil war and wounded, but he doesn't know this just yet. He doesn't know a lot of things, things he has never seen but will see and try to fo ...more
There are some books that are written for the story, and some that are written for the beauty of its writing. Very rarely will you find a book that actually possesses both qualities in spades. We have that here.
Robie is sent off to find his father in battle to bring him home. Sounds simple, right? The problem is that he's onl ...more
“It is now over”, she said, not looking at him, not favoring his eyes, but looking past him and some place beyond. … “This was a mistake a long time be ...more
In a sense, all stories are about what we mean to ourselves and what we mean to each other. It's really that simple, but every one of them has to be different.
This is a quote from the afterword of the Robert Olmstead's novel, and it explains in part the sense of timelessness, of the universal truths that stand as the foundation stones of his tale of war. The names of the characters, the names of the places or the reasons for the conflict become irrelevant. The opening passage could be part of ...more
“Yes sir,” he said. “I know. Rest now.”
“This was not the raving mad. This was not for love or greed or ignorance. These are the well bred and the highly educated. This is humanity. This is mankind, son.”
Coal Black Horse was a horrific and starkly beautiful civil war novel . Sparse in prose yet deeply expressive, it captures the reality and hopelessness of war and the loss of innocence with a style and imagery reminiscent of ...more
Coal Black Horse is the story of a fourteen year old boy who is sent by his mother to bring home his soldier/father from the battle at Gettysburg. It is the experience of a young boy in a war. I have heard stories about children ...more
In the opening pages, 14-year-old Robey Childs is called into the house by his clairvoyant mother. It's May 1863, and she perceives that the Civil War has reached a ...more
Rarely have I read a book that fully depicts the horror of the aftermath of war that does not feel the need to sermonize about war and its banality. Yet this book, which is gruesomely violent and disturbing at times, seems to fully embrace war as a part of human nature, and in its basest elem ...more
At one level, a stock transformation through a journey story.
At another level, an American Divine Comedy.
A boy travels from the purity of his home and childhood into the depths of hell and returns a man. Hell in this case takes form as the Civil War and specifically, the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg; where the death, blood and horror signal the start of a national return to self-evident truths.
The magic of this story is made by the boy's guide; a shaman who casts a mystical spell ...more
It's easy to look back on a battle and say, That was the Battle of Gettysburg. It was fought in early July 1863 with 50,000 casualties. You had Meade on one side and Lee on the other. You can go back and draw up the battle plans in your head and watch how it was supposed to go and how it really went.
It's another thing to be there. Particularly from the ...more
This book was a win ...more
The above quote tells quite a bit about Olmstead's Coal Black Horse . It is garnish and flair, it is pretty words and gruesome descriptions of the horrors of war, but it is a story without a point, except to say that life is without value and, eventually, someone will end yours and it will all be over.
Olmstead borrows heavily from the styles of Howard Bahr and Stephen Crane to create this book. From The Red Badge of Cou ...more
Robert Olmstead has previously published three novels, a short story collection (River Dogs), and a memoir. Brief and intense, Coal Black Horse has generated high praise and seems destined to become the author's breakout book. Critics inevitably compare the novel to Charles Frazier's masterpiece, Cold Mountain, and other classics of Civil War and postapocalyptic fiction: Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage, E. L. Doctorow's The March, Cormac McCarthy's The Road, and Michael Shaara's Killer...more
Coal Black Horse is a story of fourteen year old 'boy', Robey Childs, who leaves his mother (at her direction) to go find her husband/his dad, a soldier fighting in the Civil War. Robey is guided thru his journey by a majestic and stately horse that is the color of coal black.
I like the C ...more
Olmstead was born in 1954 in Westmoreland, New Hampshire. He grew up on a farm. After high school, he enrolled at Davidson College with a football scholarship, but left school after three semesters in which he compiled a poor academic record. He later attended Syracuse University, where he studied with Raymon ...more