Anthologist Golden (In Praise of Mothers: A Literary Anthology, 1994, etc.) here takes on horse stories- -22 in all: the kind written by John Steinbeck (``The Red Pony'') and William Saroyan (``The Summer of the Beautiful White Horse''), not by such penmen of the purple plains as Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey. Among entries rising to songful praise of the fabulous beast that lives beside us in real time on real earth are Rudyard Kipling's ``The Maltese Cat,'' Wallace Stegner's ``The Colt,'' Beryl Markham's ``The Splendid Outcast,'' Patrica Highsmith's ``Engine Horse,'' and Elizabeth Spencer's ``The Girl Who Loved Horses,'' plus stories by Joyce Cary, James Salter, John O'Hara, Tess Slesinger, and Kay Boyle, among others. Not here: Tolstoy's matchless ``Strider, the Story of a Horse,'' perhaps the greatest horse story ever written, nor Faulkner's barbed-wired and cantankerous ``Spotted Horses''—a loss absolved by the exquisite mists and agonies evoked in Rick Bass's ``Wild Horses,'' in which an old horse vet observes: ``The strongest creatures were the ones that got the sickest, and their pain was unspeakable when they finally did yield to it.''
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