Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kirkus Reviews, reining and racehorses

Around this time last year, a depressing bit of publishing news emerged. Tart-tongued book review bible Kirkus Reviews was closing after 76 years. The Nielsen Company, in full-scale retreat from the often awful world of magazine publishing, shut down Kirkus and Editor & Publisher. And then - reprieve. A shopping mall mogul bought Kirkus, which was named after founder Virginia Kirkus. New owner Herb Simon is also the owner of the NBA's Indiana Pacers, and part owner of a bookstore.

Editor & Publisher
was also saved. The Duncan McIntosh Company resurrected the shuttered publication, sans its editor and star reporter, only to fire its remaining editorial staff late this year - the memo announcing the re-structuring is a little classic in bad writing:

"Editor & Publisher magazine will be utilizing more individuals for the print edition who are experts in their individual fields as opposed to reporters who track down experts and put the expert’s story into the writer’s words.

So, a few review from Kirkus of recent horsey releases: young adult fantasy novels Pegasus and House Of The Star, Jane Smiley's A Good Horse, a Ted Lewin picture book about a New York City barn, Stable and 2010 National Book Award winner (and racetrack fable) Lord Of Misrule

By Becky Hanson (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The largest reining show in the world kicks off this week in Oklahoma City. The National Reining Horse Association's NRHA Futurity and Adequan North American Affiliate Championship Show runs from November 25 through December 4, 2010.

Growing up with the elegant, long-legged, fiery Thoroughbreds of C.W. Anderson and Walter Farley as my ideals, I never had a notion of the West or Western riding. Then I grew up, began to realize that I could die, and started taking riding lessons. (In that order, which is, frankly, not the best order to do it - ideally you learn to ride before you learn that you can die, as that makes the whole process less fraught.) Once you give your fragile self to a large, skittish animal for safekeeping, those short, calm 'ranch-type' horses take on a whole new appeal. I went to a reining show a few years ago and what impressed me most was how, at the end of each round - a round that included galloping, spinning and bursts of speed - the horse stopped quietly at one end of the ring, the rider dismounted at his/her leisure, and they walked out in what can only be described as a mosey. I like a horse who can mosey.

And back to the Thoroughbreds... Mine That Bird, the gelding whose 2009 Kentucky Derby win charmed and surprised, has been retired. He'll have a retirement ceremony at Churchill Downs on November 28. The filly Zenyatta has retired (again) after coming a close, close second in the Breeder's Cup. And Philadelphia favorite Smarty Jones, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2004, has been moved from Kentucky stud Three Chimneys Farm to Ghost Ridge Farms in Pennsylvania.

And in hyper-reality, Secretariat has made $55 million. It reportedly cost $35 million. I leave it up to those who understand box-office philosophy to decide if that's a winner.

National Book Awards - Lord Of Misrule
Ted Lewin website

The Bloodhorse - Mine That Bird To Bid Farewell At Churchill
ESPN - Zenyatta Retires To Lane's End Farm
Ghost Ridge Farms
Box Office Mojo - Secretariat

NYT - Editor & Publisher and Kirkus To Close

NYT- Kirkus Gets A New Owner - From The NBA

Editor & Publisher

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