On February 2nd, author Jaimy Gordon broke quickly from the gate and reined the crowd in with her excellent reading from her novel, Lord of Misrule (2010). The story, an interesting take on the behind-the-scenes details of horse training and of the entire racing industry, made all in attendance feel like they were home on the range with the story’s leading characters. “It really smells like the track, and sounds like it, and looks like it,” Gordon noted of her work, inspired, she added, by her time spent working in the horse-business back in her 20s.
Jaimy Gordon was introduced Thursday night by St. Lawrence Professor Pedro Ponce of the English Department; he was a former student of hers. Gordon, a Professor at Western Michigan University (and also a teacher for the Prague Summer Program for Writers), has three other novels under her belt, aside from Lord of Misrule: Shamp of the City-Solo; She Drove Without Stopping; and Bogeywoman (this made the list of Best Fiction of 2000 in the Los Angeles Times). Gordon has been honored with becoming a Fellow of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown as well as the Bunting Institute at Harvard (it is now the Radcliffe Institute). Furthermore, in 1991, the authoress accepted an Academy-Institute Award for her Fiction work from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
What is next on her list of things to accomplish? “I want to start writing about things that didn’t happen in my 20s,” Gordon laughed, referencing her four novels thus far. She says she’s ready to tackle adulthood now. When asked why she decided to be a writer, Gordon laughed, “Incompetence of everything else.” She added, more seriously, “What did I like? I liked stories.” Luckily for readers everywhere.
Gordon noted that she likes horse-racing because it’s a rather spiritual experience. The betters gamble with their fate, judged or not judged that day by the Gods (or the Heavens or whatnot), and it seems to Gordon that the game pays the worthy and punishes the others. It’s not about survival or greed; it’s about the test. It’s always judgment day at the race track. And if this novel is a factor into fate, Gordon deserves, with her intelligent, emotional, and inspired writing, a trifecta worthy of the big take at the window. Her latest novel deserves the winner’s circle, and her combined wit and prose deserve the mark of best in show.
So, if you missed Thursday’s reading, your horse got scratched, but it’s never too late to swing by the Bookstore and check out Lord of Misrule. And who knows; maybe I’ll see you at the rail.