Shatner’s ‘Spirit Of The Horse’ Is An Ode To Four-Legged Friends

I think there are two things that unite horse people above all else: love of a complex animal, and a deep appreciation for story. Literature and history are littered with stories of horses, from the great Bucephalus to Black Beauty to Secretariat. And even closer to home, on ranches and in stables, on breeding farms and hobby farms, smaller, more intimate stories spread and linger — an old gelding who liked things just so, a hot-blooded young mare who could only be ridden by children, a first pony, the one that got away, the one that broke your heart. Horse people tell stories. We can’t help ourselves. Our admiration and wonder pours out of us, and inspires even the reserved old cowboy to wax poetic.

William Shatner is no different. From the first words of Spirit of the Horse, it’s clear that this is a man who is wonderfully, hopelessly in love with the creatures. He weaves his own anecdotes and memories with fables, excerpts from old training manuals, and other legacies to create something that is part memoir, part question: Why do horses have such a hold on humans? What about them captures us so intently?

The writing itself meanders, chasing tangents and thoughts in a way that could easily be annoying, but with Shatner’s gentle charm and curiosity, it finds a balance. There is a sense that you’re sitting on a porch with an old horseman, listening to him muse about the horses he’s known, the falls he’s taken, and the memories he’s made. From Star Trek sets to charity horse shows, it’s a sweet walk through a pretty interesting life. As someone who grew up alongside horses and continues to train them to this day, the evident fondness is a beautiful, familiar thing to me.

Like most meandering tales, there are places in Spirit of the Horse where the research is old, or the beliefs are incorrect. This is unlikely to trouble the casual reader or horse fan, but people who work with horses on a more regular basis may find some frustration with Shatner’s outdated takes on social structure and fear response. (The image of the domineering wild stallion may capture your imagination, for example — but increasingly, we’re discovering that it’s nothing more than fiction.

All that meandering can be a little off-putting at first — Shatner could certainly have benefitted from stronger editorial oversight. At times his narrative jumps the rails, never wrapping up a first thought until it he’s traveled through many more, and there are moments where he’ll simply abandon an interesting direction in favor of something new.

But one story in particular struck home, a memory of Shatner visiting Christopher Reeve in the hospital after he’d been paralyzed in a fall from a horse. They spoke — naturally — of horses, and Shatner marvels at the joy that was in Reeve’s eyes. Reeve’s sport, three day eventing, was my sport for many years, and I have often wondered what would happen if I took a jump wrong, if I hadn’t cleared a falling horse once — if I had lost everything the way Reeve did. Yet the story illustrates another common failing: We never seem to lose our love, once we’ve been bitten.

If you have not had the pleasure (and trauma) of having horses in your life, and have not read extensively about them, but you love their legacy and presence, this book will likely delight you. And if you know horses well — but have a fondness for Star Trek and memories of an interesting life — it’s still worth picking up.

Many of us grew up watching Star Trek, and countless dreams and careers grew out of the show’s curiosity and passion for learning — qualities which imbue The Spirit of the Horse from start to finish.

Wellcome science book prize goes to story of a heart transplant

A novel that “illustrates what it is to be human” has become the first translated book to win the Wellcome prize for science writing.

Maylis de Kerangal’s Mend the Living, which tracks the journey of a heart from donor to recipient over 24 hours, is only the second novel ever to scoop the £30,000 prize, which is awarded to a work of fiction or nonfiction that engages with health and medicine.

Announcing the winner, chair of judges Val McDermid said: “Sometimes you read a memoir and it is just one person’s tragedy, but this is about the tragedy and hope that comes from loss that could affect every single one of us.” She said the judges “felt very strongly” that the book had the potential to change the lives of readers and called it “compelling, original and ambitious”.

De Kerangal’s novel was translated from French by Jessica Moore, who was awarded £10,000. McDermid praised the translation, which she told the Guardian pulled off the difficult trick of shaping a book into a second language without undermining the intention or voice of the original.

Describing herself as a “long-time advocate” of translated fiction, McDermid, a bestselling crime writer, said: “Publishers have very slowly woken up to the importance to readers of translated fiction as a way of understanding a globalised world … The English language doesn’t have a monopoly on terrific writing and I am very happy to be one of the judges who chose this book.”

Mend the Living begins with vibrant young surfer Simon Limbeau suffering catastrophic injuries in a road traffic accident. Faced with a son who has been left brain dead, his parents are forced to decide whether to turn off his life support and donate his heart. The story then follows Limbeau’s heart on its way to a donor recipient and explores how people recover hope in tragic circumstances.

The novel, which was also longlisted for the 2016 Man Booker international prize, has also been adapted to film. Directed by Katell Quillévéré and renamed Heal the Living (Réparer les vivants), it stars Tahar Rahim, Emmanuelle Seigner and Anne Dorval and is set for a UK release at the end of April.

Mend the Living was chosen from a strong shortlist of six books that included two novels, the other being Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss, about a family navigating the NHS as they come to terms with a child’s unexpected illness.

Ed Yong’s I Contain Multitudes, which examines how the 40tn microbes in the human body affect us, was the only debut on the shortlist. The other three books interweaved science with personal experience. Neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi was the first author to be in contention for the prize posthumously, with his memoir When Breath Becomes Air recounting his final months of life with terminal lung cancer. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Gene blends a narrative about genetics with the story of reoccurring mental illness in his family, while David France, a gay man and an eyewitness to the Aids epidemic, wrote of the struggle faced by HIV/Aids activists during the 1980s in How to Survive a Plague.

McDermid chaired a panel of judges that mixed broadcasters and writers with scientists. Cambridge professors Simon Baron-Cohen and Tim Lewens joined the Wire in the Blood author on a panel completed by broadcaster Gemma Cairney and radio producer Di Speirs.


Leon & Lulu hosts annual Books & Authors event in Clawson

How wonderful would it be to pick up a book you are interested in and have the author pop up in person to tell you all about it?

That is the idea behind the “Books and Authors” event at Leon & Lulu in Clawson.

More than 50 authors will be available to chat about the 125 book titles represented April 30, at Leon & Lulu. The books range in genre from self-help, children’s, poetry, romance, autobiographies, and fiction. This spring the store had its largest number of applicants.

“Clearly, people love to read. We always have a big crowd and a really fun day,” says Mary Liz Curtin, who along with Stephen Scannell owns this wildly amusing one-of-a kind shop.

The fun day begins when you walk into the converted historic Ambassador roller skating rink, and are greeted by a person on roller skates carrying a tray of warm chocolate chip cookies. In the food café you can treat yourself to complimentary hotdogs, popcorn and coffee during this event.

As you walk around the store looking at the stunning custom made furniture, zany accessories, women’s items and made-in-Michigan products, you might just be joined by one of the owners’ rescue animals. The store is named after the owners’ beloved cat and dog.

Throughout the 20,000-square-foot building, guest authors are set up at their tables, where customers can meet them and ask questions. As a bonus, Leon & Lulu will donate 10 percent of sales that day to the Oakland Literacy Council.

“This program has been a great way to give back to the community as well as spread our reach and meet new customers,” Curtin says. “We do love a party here at Leon & Lulu.”

It’s also a way to support your favorite authors and discovery new ones.

• Books & Authors is 11-5 p.m. April 30 at Leon & Lulu, 96 W. 14 Mile Road, Clawson. The event and parking are free.

Thomas Jefferson’s Law School Books Going Online

Thomas Jefferson’s collection of law books for the University of Virginia is going online.

The law school is digitizing the books it’s collected in a search that started more than 40 years ago.

Jefferson personally selected the 375 law books for the university’s original 1828 library.

the project team carefully places the books under a dual-camera system that captures high-quality images of the pages. They’ll go into a *free* virtual library along with essays that help people today interpret the legal texts.

“It’s of interest to people to learn about how our legal culture developed,” said Jim Ambuske, a Digital Humanities post-doctoral fellow.

This is in a moment 50 years after independence when Americans were still trying to figure out what defines an American.

“It’ll be a great opportunity to really expand our knowledge of early American law and how Americans interacted with the law,” said >>>Melissa Gismondi, Project Co-Director.