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The Sport of Kings
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2016 alt.TOB (#2) The Books > The Sport of Kings

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message 1: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy (asawatzky) | 1739 comments The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan

About the Book: (source: http://us.macmillan.com/thesportofkin... )
Hellsmouth, an indomitable Thoroughbred with the blood of Triple Crown winners in her veins, runs for the glory of the Forge family, one of Kentucky’s oldest and most powerful dynasties. Henry Forge has partnered with his daughter, Henrietta, in an endeavor of raw obsession: to breed the next superhorse, the next Secretariat. But when Allmon Shaughnessy, an ambitious young black man, comes to work on their farm, the violence of the Forges’ history and the exigencies of appetite are brought starkly into view. Entangled in fear, prejudice, and lust, the three tether their personal dreams of glory to the speed and grace of Hellsmouth.

A spiraling tale of wealth and poverty, racism and rage, The Sport of Kings is an unflinching portrait of lives cast in shadow by the enduring legacy of slavery. C. E. Morgan, who received a 2016 Windham–Campbell Prize for Fiction, has given life to a tale as mythic and fraught as the South itself—a moral epic for our time.

About the Author: (source: http://us.macmillan.com/author/cemorgan )
C.E. Morgan studied English and voice at Berea College and holds a master’s in theological studies from Harvard Divinity School. She is the author of All the Living and lives in Kentucky.

Book Review: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/18/boo...
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If you would like to chat about this book, or this author, here's a place to do so!

Happy reading!!


message 2: by krystal (new) - added it

krystal | 1 comments Who is the unnamed man in the epilogue? Is it an alternate ending for Allmon? Allmon's ghost? Did it happen in the past?


Mainon (bravenewbooks) | 91 comments krystal wrote: "Who is the unnamed man in the epilogue? Is it an alternate ending for Allmon? Allmon's ghost? Did it happen in the past?"

I wish someone else would weigh in with their thoughts, because this is the kind of thing I never feel confident in answering. I had to go back and double-check that he really died.


message 4: by Lark (new)

Lark Benobi (larkbenobi) | 136 comments I finally got to the top of the library waiting list but then very quickly discovered this book was firmly in the 'not for me' category. It's me, not the book! It is beautifully written, I read enough to know I would be deeply invested in these characters if I kept going...and horses just got in the way.

I hate to be so narrow minded. There is definitely a very narrow-minded cost-benefit ratio in my head though where, the longer the book is, the more immediately perfect it needs to be for me in its first pages, or I just get cranky. Thank goodness--and I will out myself a little bit here--I'm not a judge. Although if I were I'd keep reading and probably love it.


Mainon (bravenewbooks) | 91 comments poingu wrote: "I finally got to the top of the library waiting list but then very quickly discovered this book was firmly in the 'not for me' category. It's me, not the book!"

Not that I'm trying to change your mind, but I don't think the first few chapters are very representative of the rest of the book. I don't have firm numbers, but it felt to me like about 70% of the book had nothing to do with horses at all, and the two "main characters" of the book as a whole (in my opinion) aren't even in the first part.

One review I read (New Yorker, I think) speculated that there were probably 4 or 5 really good novellas that could have been pulled out of this book, and I think I agree with that.


Drew (drewlynn) | 425 comments Not that I'm trying to change your mind, but I don't think the first few chapters are very representative of the rest of the book...."

Good because I just started and am finding the beginning to be a bit of a slog.


message 7: by Lark (new)

Lark Benobi (larkbenobi) | 136 comments Mainon wrote: "Not that I'm trying to change your mind, but I don't think the first few chapters are very representative of the rest of the book. "

Well, I pretty much know I'm wrong for putting it down. It's a reflection of my impatience rather than a reflection on this book, and also of my weird reluctance to spend so much time on one thing which is not very logical but leaves me reading shorter books usually.


Sarah Tittle | 49 comments I'm going to comment more in the TOB discussion part, but I think this book was both genius and highly flawed. I think this writer is one to watch.


Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 606 comments poingu wrote: "I finally got to the top of the library waiting list but then very quickly discovered this book was firmly in the 'not for me' category. It's me, not the book! It is beautifully written, I read eno..."

This is why I have a 'try again sometime' pile for books that are the right book at the wrong time. Whether I ever actually read anything from the pile is another issue. So far, it's only happened once, with Infinite Jest. Boy am I glad I went back to that one!


message 10: by Lark (new)

Lark Benobi (larkbenobi) | 136 comments Nadine wrote: "This is why I have a 'try again sometime' pile for books that are the right book at the wrong time. Whether I ever actually read anything from the pile is another issue. So far, it's only happened once, with Infinite Jest. Boy am I glad I went back to that one! "

Nadine, I've had so many people say that to me about Infinite Jest. I think I'll need to schedule an Infinite Jest Month to get to it, though, and vow to not read anything else that month. I did that finally with The Magic Mountain and The Karamazov Brothers and they are both all time favorites for me.


message 11: by Drew (new) - rated it 4 stars

Drew (drewlynn) | 425 comments I was reading this on the train yesterday and didn't realize I was almost at my destination until the conductor announced it. My friend asked why I hadn't texted her when we passed Camas and wasn't a bit surprised when I told her I was reading and didn't notice.


message 12: by Jan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jan (janrowell) | 1104 comments I am soooo looking forward to reading this one. I'm enjoying some shorter books right now while I recover from having read Queen of the Night, Middlemarch and Barkskins this summer, but thinking I'll be ready once I finish Laurus and Core of the Sun.


message 13: by Jan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jan (janrowell) | 1104 comments This finally made it to the top of the pile...I'm 50 pages in and totally hooked. Is anyone else tackling this one?


message 14: by Drew (new) - rated it 4 stars

Drew (drewlynn) | 425 comments This book was so intense I frequently had to put it down and go decompress for a while. Has anyone read her first book?


Mainon (bravenewbooks) | 91 comments I had a very "up and down" experience with this book. I loved quite a few of the first chapters, then hit a point where I absolutely hated reading it, and then there'd be some beautifully written, touching chapters, and then I'd hate it again, and then it would get worse when I didn't think it could, but would still be flecked with moments of genius.

I haven't read her first book but would be interested to hear from someone who's read both, whether her style has evolved or is consistent, etc.


Mainon (bravenewbooks) | 91 comments For what it's worth, here's a review that in many ways I strongly agreed with, but I think it's telling that its praise focuses on minor points and characters:

New Yorker review of Sport of Kings


message 17: by Lark (new)

Lark Benobi (larkbenobi) | 136 comments Mainon wrote: "I had a very "up and down" experience with this book. I loved quite a few of the first chapters, then hit a point where I absolutely hated reading it, and then there'd be some beautifully written, ..."

I'm trying these days to forgive a book's flaws if it does some things tremendously, because the flaws show how far the author was trying to reach.

It sounds like this author reached for the stars in every direction, and while she fell short in some directions, she made it in others.

That's the way I felt about The Underground Railroad too--a lot I could have criticized but I don't think it would have been as great a book or achieved what it does if Whitehead had played it safer.


Amanda (tnbooklover) I just got a copy of this today. Hoping to get to it in early Oct. It's one I'm excited about and was happy to see there was a conversation here about it.


Donna (ddoklak) | 1 comments I really enjoyed Sport of Kings in the beginning as the characters were very well drawn. The relationships between Allmon and his mother and grandfather were among the strongest. However, the violence of the Forge family made the novel hard to read. As I got to the end, it was all I could do to read about Allmon and his revenge as there was nothing to lift you up. I wanted to shake Allmon for his poor choices and do even worse to Henrietta. I liked the backdrop of the horse story but waspleased it did not take away from the character driven plot. All in all--very glad I read the book. I agree with previous posts that by "reaching," the author had some hits and misses.


Melanie Greene (dakimel) | 241 comments I returned this to the library early. I got through 1/3 and was worn out. I wish there had been a smoother balance between the things that grabbed me and the unrelenting parts. Unfortunately, it did more to make me think of other things I'd rather read instead (like fiction by Black American authors that center around desegregation - any recommendations, anyone?) than it did to keep me interested in the horse farm story.


But_i_thought_ (but_i_thought) | 1 comments krystal wrote: "Who is the unnamed man in the epilogue? Is it an alternate ending for Allmon? Allmon's ghost? Did it happen in the past?"

I am also confused by the ending! I think it's a metaphor for Allmon's passing into the next world / returning home (whatever you want to call it). I don't think it happened in the past due to the reference of "burned arms".


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