Since his arrival as a novelist and essayist in the late 1960s, Thomas McGuane's elegant and muscular prose has left its print on the trail of American letters, exploring the American landscape and exposing the American heart. In the nine finely tooled essays that make up Some Horses, McGuane explores and exposes his own passionately layered relationship to the cutting horses he rides and works on his Montana ranch. The author's admiration for his four-legged characters is displayed with perceptive wit and clear affection: "If a horse were a Ford," he suggests, "the species would vanish beneath lawsuits engendered by consumer-protection laws." As both participant and observer, McGuane makes sure his readers feel the unique intimacy of the man-horse relationship. "We have saturated the horse with our emotions," he writes. "Yet, a lover of horses has nothing to prove and no expertise to reveal. It is important that we find animals to love, and that is the end of the story."
Actually, for McGuane it's just the beginning. Moving with introspection and grace, he kicks up plenty of dust, description, and insight in essays that probe the intricacies of riding horses, working horses, caring for horses, breeding horses, and competing on them in the roping and displays he so loves. In the magical "A Foal," he contrasts the anxiety of a favorite mare's overdue pregnancy with the joy that finally attends the successful introduction of a healthy newborn into the fold. Also scattered through the collection are marvelous insights into the writer's life--and, in one particular passage, the hands that have produced his life's work: "I looked at my hand, crooked thumb, rope burns, enlarged knuckles, and I felt good because I'd always been afraid that, as a writer, I would always have these Ivory Snow hands." But it's the bigger picture that ultimately interests McGuane: "The open range, the open sea, the open sky, the open wounds of the heart, that's where writers shine." McGuane shines on every page. --Jeff Silverman