Read Sweet William: A Memoir of Old Horse by John Hawkes Online


John Hawkes (author of thirteen previous novels, including The Lime Twig, Adventures in the Alaskan Skin Trade, Virginie, and The Blood Oranges) is one of American fiction's most honored, irascible - and most unpredictable - talents. Now Hawkes delivers what is destined to become his most popular novel, the autobiography of a wise, witty, Sweet WilliJohn Hawkes (author of thirteen previous novels, including The Lime Twig, Adventures in the Alaskan Skin Trade, Virginie, and The Blood Oranges) is one of American fiction's most honored, irascible - and most unpredictable - talents. Now Hawkes delivers what is destined to become his most popular novel, the autobiography of a wise, witty, Sweet William is fresh and lively, a completely compelling reading experience, and a truly human, humane tale. In this anthropomorphic odyssey, Hawkes takes us into the rough world of Old Horse from his Dickensian youth (marked by the death of his beloved dam), through his years on the racetrack of life, to his relationship with Master, the man whose kindness transforms his beastly life. Old Horse is a figure whose trek through the world's multitude of shifting circumstances symbolizes all the tests and challenges faced by every beast. Hawkes brings real heart and moments of savage humor to this equine saga....

Title : Sweet William: A Memoir of Old Horse
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780140236163
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Sweet William: A Memoir of Old Horse Reviews

  • Debbie Zapata
    2019-03-28 11:16

    The final two sentences in the author's 'gentle warning' before the book begins:"If convention and reassurance are what you must have, then stop and spare yourself unsettling surprise. But if you are not easily aroused to indignation, and if you are prepared to set aside familiar expectations, then persist, walk on, ride to the end, and in the adversities of this horse's life find your own."So, forewarned is forearmed, right? Nearly every fictional horse book has at least one or two brutal episodes of abuse. But this one is overflowing with them. Sweet William is one of those horses who live under a cloud, always having bad things happen to him, whether through his own intractability or from the spite and ignorance of the people in his life.This story is grotesque on many levels. Only Sweet William's fiery temper helps him survive to become the Old Horse we meet in the first pages, the horse who then shares his life story in graphic, bloody detail.This is NOT Black Beauty. Comparisons to that book are only valid because the narrator of each story is a horse. Here there is no love or respect between horse and human, no understanding or comfort such as Beauty found in various times in his life. This is a gritty, disturbing look at what can happen to a horse when the people in his life are greedy, stupid and heartless, as so many in the horse world are.But while I was prepared for gruesome, I was not prepared to disbelieve the thought processes the author put into the mind of Sweet William. He was a Thoroughbred, meant for the racetrack. High-strung, overly sensitive, but also very intelligent, as many Thoroughbreds are. And he was a stallion, but here is where the author lost credibility in my eyes. Hawkes makes the horse witness a breeding, something which not only showed him what he was supposed to do with his life but made him feel guilty for seeing it, and later the horse has dreams of replacing the breeding stallion (who just happened to be his own sire) and breed with his own mother, but of course he would be a tender lover, not the lustful monster he witnessed. Geeze, talk about finding your own adversities! I worked for four years on a breeding farm which stood three stallions. They were all perfectly capable of behaving themselves while around other horses and during the breeding process. A stallion needs to handled with respect and awareness, of course, but they are not sex maniacs on four legs, unless that is all they are allowed to be.I do not feel the author captured a true equine mindset in this book, and I was rolling my eyes in exasperation long before the final section of the book, when Master buys Old Horse and the story picks up where it started before the memories began. I had continued because I wanted to see what kind if relationship the two would develop, but for some reason Hawkes creates pages and pages of diversions by having the groom Ralph tell crude stories about his sexual adventures with his own sister, then Master tells weird stories about his childhood, and Sweet William/Old Horse just stands listening in disbelief. I skimmed through most of this final section until I found places where the horse was speaking again. I really saw no need for most of this part of the book, but then who am I to wonder about an author and his adversities.

  • Amber
    2019-04-03 10:20

    A really amazing analysis is here: is a book about how humans appropriate animals in order to individuate themselves. It's a book about language, and a book that attempts to recreate a very physical, immediate animal existence, without symbolism, while at the same time parodying and symbolizing the human struggle to find ourselves in Otherness.It's pretty fascinating stuff, if you can stomach all of Ralph and Master's long-winded stories...

  • Stephanie A.
    2019-03-31 07:30

    I am at a crossroads. On the one hand, beyond impressed somebody wrote contemporary adult fiction that is, in fact, an equine autobiography. On the other hand, it's not much fun to read about a horse who is a self-avowed bitter misanthrope pretty much from birth, or some of the deeply disturbing imagery (traumatized forever by zombie!horse), or how a huge section of the end gets bogged down in these pointless, boring conversations between two men in which the horse essentially just stands there and listens to them go on and on and ON.

  • Peacegal
    2019-04-24 07:21

    Unusual and often pretentious, Sweet William strives to be Black Beauty for grownups. Although written from a horse’s point of view, the author takes many liberties with the equine thought process. For example, after a horse is gelded, he mourns that he will not get to see his traits passed on to any foals. Come on!Readers should be aware that although this is an animal story, it is not for children. There are numerous violent and sexual scenes throughout.

  • Will Byrnes
    2019-04-22 08:13

    The William of the title is a thoroughbred horse. Traumatized by events in his youth, William is not your average sweet creature. In fact, he is sometimes murderous. This was an enjoyable, interesting horse tail, not one for the kiddies, but moving and well written.

  • Lisa
    2019-03-27 09:14

    Mom gave me this when I was really young, assuming it was just another horsey thing for girls who love Black Beauty...but it was one of the most profoundly fucked-up, innocence-crushing things I've ever read. Awesome!

  • Justine
    2019-04-22 11:18

    I read this years was a gift from my grandmother while I was in high school. As a lifetime horse owner, I was profoundly horrified, but riveted. It is an extremely well-written, emotional book. I eye it on my bookshelf all the time, thinking I should re-read it as an adult.

  • Sally Grey
    2019-04-23 08:17

    Couldn't read it. Too grim!

  • Denise Fraser
    2019-03-24 15:15

    One of my favourite books.

  • Megan Q.
    2019-04-04 10:30

    Eh...maybe 2 1/2 stars rather than two. Story was okay, I think it was more the writing style that I found tedious.

  • Suzanne
    2019-04-09 14:11

    This book will break your heart...beautiful, sad, and worth it.

  • Julie Christiano
    2019-04-03 11:22

    Everyone who has loved Black Beauty ( and poor Ginger) as a child could relearn the story of a horse, from a horse, from Sweet William.

  • Lynne
    2019-03-26 12:29

    I loved the voice of this prickly, beautiful, passionate thoroughbred as he progresses through his very English life. And I also loved the portrait of his inept yet devoted final master. This is not a lyrical book, except in occasional descriptions of the English countryside. It is rough with its truths: "Pain is my favorite word. Each joint, each sickened and unresilient muscle, each of my more than two hundred bones is a source of pain...the ammonia that rises from the filthy straw in which I stand is not a metaphor. Spleen is the sustaining lyricism of those unlucky horses consigned at last to the abandoned paddocks of old age (p.57)."