Thar She Blows by James Ragsdale

Thar She Blows

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In this hybrid work of spiritualism, memoir, and nonfiction, debut author Ragsdale takes the reader through his history with the sport of horse racing, from his younger years sneaking away from jobs for a few hours at the track to his later ownership of multiple thoroughbreds.

Most of Ragsdale’s horses proved to cost more money than they ever made, though one, the eponymous Thar She Blows, ended up being quite profitable after a high initial investment in medical bills. Between Ragsdale’s accounts of various horses and tracks, he describes the various breeds of horses that are raced (quarter horses, thoroughbreds), the winnings breakdown for various states, and why donkeys make the best companion animals. He also begins and ends each chapter (or “race,” as he calls them) with equine-related Bible passages. Ragsdale’s career as an owner came to an end after his “female racing companion,” Barbara, injured herself in a paddock and they decided to sell their final horse. Ragsdale’s love of horses certainly comes across, and he seasons his memoir with wry humor: “In the beginning was the WORD. Then our creator made a creative man and woman and then came the horse. Our Creator always goes first class and provided man and woman with a means of transportation. Sometimes a donkey.” On the whole, however, his writing is difficult to read; it leaps from topic to topic with little logical organization. There is no overarching narrative in the book (or even smaller narratives within the chapters). The reader gets little sense of what Ragsdale learned from his decades around horse racing or what wisdom he wishes to impart. The religiosity within the text may alienate secular readers, but it’s never dogmatic: Bible passages were seemingly chosen because they featured the word “horse.” It’s difficult to imagine that the audience for this book would extend beyond the horse racing community in the Louisiana/East Texas area.

A confounding account of the author’s life in horse racing.

Pub Date: March 8th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-5049-7457-8
Page count: 108pp
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Program: Kirkus Indie
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