On a moonless Texas night in 1895, an ambitious young landowner suffers the loss of “the only woman he’s ever been fond of” when his wife dies during childbirth with the couple’s fourth boy, Karel. From an early age, Karel proves so talented on horseback that his father enlists him to ride in acreage-staked horseraces against his neighbors. But Karel is forever haunted by thoughts of the mother he never knew, by the bloodshot blame in his father’s eyes, and permanently marked by the yoke he and his brothers are forced to wear to plow the family fields. Confident only in the saddle, Karel is certain that the horse “wants the whip the same way he wants his pop’s strap . . . the closest he ever gets to his father’s touch.”
In the winter of 1910, Karel rides in the ultimate high-stakes race against a powerful Spanish patriarch and his alluring daughters. Hanging in the balance are his father’s fortune, his brother’s futures, and his own fate. Fourteen years later, with the stake of the race still driven hard between him and his brothers, Karel is finally forced to dress the wounds of his past and to salvage the tattered fabric of his family.
Reminiscent of Kent Haruf’s portrayals of hope amidst human heartbreak and Cormac McCarthy’s finely hewn evocations of the American Southwest, Bruce Machart’s debut compels us to consider the inescapable connections between sons and their mothers, between landscape and family, and between remembrance and redemption.
Copyright ©2010 Bruce Machart. All Rights Reserved. Author Photo: ©Christopher Jean-Richard.