Wednesday, September 9, 2009

All the Pretty Horses

Look me up in a psychology textbook (please don't) and you'll find my picture under the "slow to warm up" category. It takes me extra time to adjust to new ideas or experiences. It took me years to finally join the karaoke frenzy and now I'm addicted. (Sorry! I promise to skip In Da Club next time.) I'm still learning to appreciate the joys of public transportation and city life. I have yet to have a conversation that lasts longer than 5 minutes with the Tori Amos/Neil Gaiman
Obsessed fanboy at Barnes and Noble, but there's always room for growth. This week, however, I literally went leaps and bounds beyond my previous schema; I learned to love horses. (For more details on my previous apathy to horses, check out my May 31st post.) This week I read King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian by Marguerite Henry, winner of the 1949 Newbery Medal, and for the first time, understood the appeal of these wild creatures.

In lyrical prose that reads like a nonfiction fairy tale, Henry tells the epic story of Sham, a golden Arabian stallion, and Agba, a mute horseboy, who takes care of him when Sham's mother dies. Instead of giving up on this unlucky animal, Agba becomes his surrogate parent and a special bond grows between them. Agba accompanies Sham when the horse is selected by the Sultan of Morocco to travel to France as a present for Louis XV. Through many unpredictable turns of fate, Sham and Agba are often separated and must find ways to be reunited. No matter who "owns" Sham, he does not bend to the will of any man. Like the Islamic legend states, he is a creature of the wind, born from it when Allah said, "I will that a creature proceed from thee. Condense thyself" (29). Sham comes to life in Henry's lush sensual language which fleshes him out as a complete, but not anthropomorphized, character. He is more than just an animal; he is Agba's family. The love that they share is something transcendent and beautiful, and it changes both of them. It is the chances you take, the steps into the unknown, that make you become more than you are. For Sham and Agba, their world opened up when they fought to remain together. As for me, I have an appointment at Barnes and Noble.


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