OVERRIDE

Blood Horses

Notes of a Sportswriter's Son

John Jeremiah Sullivan

Picador

Winner of the Whiting Writers’ Award

One evening late in his life, veteran sportswriter Mike Sullivan was asked by his son what he remembered best from his three decades in the press box. The answer came as a surprise. "I was at Secretariat's Derby, in '73. That was . . . just beauty, you know?"

John Jeremiah Sullivan didn't know, not really: the track had always been a place his father disappeared to once a year on business, a source of souvenir glasses and of inscrutable passions in his Kentucky relatives. So Sullivan decided to educate himself. He spent two years following horses across the country. He watched one season's juvenile crop prepare for the Triple Crown, and he tracked the animal's evolution in literature and art, from the ponies that appeared on the walls of European caves thirty thousand years ago, to the mounts that carried the Indo-European language to the edges of the Old World, to the finely tuned but fragile yearlings that are auctioned off for millions of dollars apiece every spring and fall.

The result is a witty and profound mediation on what Edwin Muir called our "long-lost archaic companionship" with the horse. Incorporating elements of memoir, reportage, and picture gallery, Blood Horses is an unprecedented look at Equus Caballus, and it introduces a new voice in American nonfiction, that of an insatiable observer in the traditions of Ian Frazier, John McPhee, and Guy Davenport.

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Blood Horses
THE KIDIt was in the month of May, three years ago, by a hospital bed in Columbus, Ohio, where my father was recovering from what was supposed to have been a quintuple bypass operation but became, on the surgeon's actually seeing the heart, a sextuple. His face, my father's face, was pale. He was thinner than I had seen him in years. A stuffed bear that the nurses had loaned him lay crooked in his lap; they told him to hug it whenever he stood or sat down, to keep the stitches in his chest from tearing. I complimented him on the bear when I walked in, and he gave me one of his looks,
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REVIEWS

Praise for Blood Horses

"Wisdom that is both personal and universal . . . Brilliant"--Chicago Tribune

"A splendid account of [the] Triple Crown . . . In horses' beauty and power, and with their hint of danger even when schooled, Sullivan senses a restoration of what has been lost to us."--The New York Times

"As unconventionally lovely a book as you are likely to read for some time."--The Arkansas Democrat Gazette

"A clear picture of a highly specialized world . . . A gem of curiosity."--The Associated Press

"Sullivan subtly extends the theme of bloodlines to make this book as much about family as it is about horses . . . Its appeal isn't limited to the equine crowd."--Outside

Reviews from Goodreads

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Blood Horses

Notes of a Sportswriter's Son

John Jeremiah Sullivan

PEN Literary Award - Finalist

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Picador

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