Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tamarlane, Strange Son Of Desert Storm (1959)

Only 1 entry so far to win Wild Horse Annie And The Last Of The Mustangs! The deadline to enter is July 4, 2010. To enter, just leave a comment on any post from June 2nd's to July 4th's.

And a quick reference on mustangs in general - the BLM, the U.S. agency that oversees the mustangs, offers online adoptions. For anyone who fantasizes about what you'd buy if you had the money, time, or remotely the skills to buy a wild horse, it's kinda addictive.

And a review which has little to do with mustangs except that the main characters are from the West, and their racehorses were originally wild. I'm not sure how that worked out with the Jockey Club when they went to the track, but who would dream of asking difficult questions of a horse book?

Tamarlane, Strange Son Of Desert Storm

Logan Forster, il. Gerald McCann

1959, Dodd, Mead & Company

...the gate crashed open and a black and a gray body half reared in the openings, hung suspended for a fleeting instant, then flashed into the sunlight.

This third in a four-book series opens with Ponce Stuart's two champion racehorses, the black mare Desert Storm and the grey colt Victorio, in a match race at Belmont Park. The mare, four months pregnant, brilliantly beats the grey but breaks down in the stretch. Her people - owner/jockey Ponce, trainer Gabriel Dreen and Ponce's family Delgadito and Joto (aka The Old Apache) - rally around, knowing that the mare has already survived a broken legs years earlier, and rig up a sling to keep her on her feet until the bone can heal.

To interject - the mare being raced while pregnant seems bizarre, the breakdown scene is heartbreaking, and the scenario that she is saved from death by a sling and cast seems dubious. Onward.

Shaken by the mare's tragedy and his own hard fall, Ponce decides to give up the track and racing. His plans are quickly derailed by an ailing racehorse breeder who presses him to buy the cream of his final crop of young racers. Ponce, pressured by his sharp-eyed kinsmen Joto to not run away, agrees, and regains his strength and courage as he campaigns the new horses, particularly the brilliant gray filly Sage Queen. But even as Ponce forms a new partnership with the Queen, something ominous seems to hang around his new Sunset Stables. When Desert Storm foals, Ponce is devastated. The foal, the colt on which he's hung all his dreams, has a clubfoot.

Three of the legs were perfectly formed, long and straight, with the big knees and ankles of all foals. The fourth, the right foreleg, was the same except for one thing. From ankle to hoof it was a solid, shapeless, queerly twisted lump.

After the first shock, Ponce settles into an angry drive to succeed with Sage Queen, avoiding his beloved Desert Storm and her failure of a foal. His rage pushes him to ride recklessly, heedlessly, with predictable results. When he finally reconciles himself to the deformed foal, he discovers an unusually mellow personality - and an uncanny ability to run sound despite his handicap. It begins to look as if Ponce's bold prediction, before the foal's birth, that this colt would run in the Kentucky Derby, might come true after all.

Despite the attractive illustrations and pleasingly over-the-top plots, Forster's books are plodding. The writing style is overripe, with a few too many trips to the Apache heritage well, and neither human nor equine characters seem particularly real. With one exception - Tamarlane's lazy, oddball personality does stand out in comparison to his more standard-issue parents, the brave mare and the wild stallion.

Logan Forster

I could find out little for certain about the author. There are hints that he was born in Salem, Oregon and he apparently lived in Colorado as an adult. According to the author notes in Mountain Stallion he served 6 years in the Navy, worked a variety of jobs, and attended the University of Colorado. According to a postscript by the author, the real clubfoot racehorse Assault was the inspiration for Tamarlane's story, but his own grey Arabian stallion Mighwar was the basis for his personality.

When it comes to stubbornness, feigned idiocy, laziness and complete lovableness, Mighwar has no equal on this earth.

Also, Forster mentions in the author's note in Tamarlane that he based the mare Desert Storm on the racehorse Busher, a filly whose career was cut short by injury and who became a famous broodmare.


Ponce series

Desert Storm (1955)

Mountain Stallion (1958)

Tamarlane, Strange Son Of Desert Storm (1959)

Revenge (1960)

Stand-alone horse book

Run Fast! Run Far! (1962)


Proud Land (1954) - appears to be about an Apache chief

Anger In The Wind (1974) - appears to be a romantic saga about the early West

Odds and Ends

The full text of Mountain Stallion is available at Internet Archives

The pedigree of Mighwar, the model for Tamarlane


Gerald McCann


He also did editions of the comic series Classics Illustrated

Other books illustrated by Gerald McCann

Revenge by Logan Forster

Brumby, The Wild White Stallion by Mary Elwyn Patchett

Tam The Untamed by Mary Elwyn Patchett

Rosina Copper, Mystery Mare by Kitty Barne

Classics Illustrated

The Conspiracy Of Pontiac by Francis Parkman

Typee by Herman Melville

The Lion Of The North by G.A. Hentry

The Pilot

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame

The Conspiractor by Alexandre Dumas, pere

The Food Of The Gods by H.G. Wells

Tom Brown's School Days

Puddn'head Wilson by Mark Twain


Gerald McCann at AskArt

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Moggypie said...

OK, I'll post a comment :) though the extract from the Wild Horse Annie book, about the blinded stallion, absolutely broke my heart...I could not shake the image for days. It's right up there with a recent front-page picture of an oil-soaked pelican in my mind of the cruelties that people can inflict...fortunately, burrowing further into a newspaper, one can find uplifting tales as well to take a bit of the sting out. I loved that you posted a pic of that old Black Beauty record on the other page--I had that as a kid too, or one like it--I remember they used a whinny to mark the page turn; my sibs and I always manipulated the needle on the record player to try to get just the whinny and play it again and again, thinking we could fool the neighbors into thinking we had a horse...

What a funny title of this book--"Strange Son of Desert Storm"! Imagine calling a kids' book starring a physically disabled character anything with "strange" in it.

I used to work for the company that published this--NOT in 1959, wasn't born yet :) They're out of business now (I guess for the past 20 years). Best part of that job? THe day the children's book editor asked me to call Sam Savitt for her. He was SO nice to this little nobody editorial assistant.

Sarah said...

Oh, cool, calling Sam Savitt! I'd forgotten about the whinny prompt to turn the page.

AC said...

That was definitely a more graphic description of the horses being trucked to the slaughterhouse than appeared in Marguerite Henry's book.

The link is addictive all right. I'm rather smitten with #6349. She reminds me of the horse I was assigned at summer camp (the only two weeks of horseback riding I've ever done).

Anonymous said...

I just googled logan forster and stumbed across this site. I can help anyone with information about Logan Forster; he lived with my family when I was young. He dedicated a book to my mom... He was an avid actor, as was my mom, in the Nomad Players in Boulder, Colorado. Yes, born in Salem. He was also a good artist. Very fun, eccentric, flamboyant person.