Aug. 2nd, 2017

chomiji: Doa from Blade of the Immortal can read! Who knew? (Doa - books)

I bought Paper Girls, vol. 2, at the local bookstore. This shop actually used to be part of the local Politics & Prose mini-chain, and it's physically in the Takoma location of the local mini-chain restaurant Busboys & Poets. But P&P has abandoned this little shop, and now it's on its own: even more incentive to buying things there. Sadly, they were sold out of Monstress, vol. 2.

In Paper Girls, things are still very chaotic. Our intrepid 1980s paper delivery girls, who had encountered aliens and/or time travelers in vol. 1, have now encountered one of their number as an adult. Apple computers and other Apple consumer electronics are playing a big and weird role in all this. I'm still not sure what's going on, but the whole thing is starting to give off a 20th Century Boys vibe, and it would not surprise me to find out that it's in dialog with that manga series.

I also re-read Marguerite Henry's Gaudenzia, Pride of the Palio. If you were a horse-crazy kid, you probably read Henry's Misty of Chincoteague, at the very least. Giorgio Tierni is the eldest son of an Italian farmer, but all he wants to do is ride and train horses. He works hard for his father in hopes of someday achieving this dream. His story becomes intertwined with that of a mare who was bred from the local breed of working horses but with a pedigreed Arabian sire. The breeder had hoped to end up with a horse who could win the Palio of Siena, a race with medieval origins that is run on the streets of the city itself. But the mare, Farfalla ("Butterfly"), is dismissed as too lightly built for the rigor of the race, and ends up an abused and overworked cart horse.

In the end, of course (the title gives it away), she is is re-named Gaudenzia ("Joy of Living") and becomes a champion of the race for which she was bred, but this is a story of the journey that takes her there, and how Giorgio became involved. It was always my favorite Henry horse story, and I enjoyed it this time as much as I ever did. Note that this is essentially a true story, although Henry tells it as fiction. See Gaudenzia's official Palio page, in Italian. Note that Vittorino, "Little Victor," was Giorgio's professional name as a fantino, that is, a Palio rider. The contradas are the city districts, each of which acts as a faction for the race. Their names are those of the heraldic charges that stand for each: Onda = wave, Lupa = wolf, etc. The medieval pageantry of the race was almost as enticing to me, as a child, as the horse story. Henry lays out the details of the Palio and its culture very clearly and beautifully, with a couple of artful info-dumps that are prize examples of how to do such a thing well.

August 2017

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