I breathed; I read the opening of Boleto

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's all moving at lightning speed around here, and frankly, I'm not keeping up.  "Breathe," a friend said the other day, and so, over the course of a train ride to Philadelphia yesterday morning, I neglected all other pressing responsibilities and did.  I breathed.  Which is to say, I read the first pages of my friend Alyson Hagy's new novel, Boleto, which had arrived by way of uncorrected proofs from Graywolf Saturday morning. 

I have known Alyson for a long time.  I have read every book she has written.  I have read some of her stories twice.  I have treasured every email, learned what she has generously taught me, savored the quality of her—no fair-weather friend, this Alyson Hagy.  She is always there, she is never self-important, she takes time even though I am not entirely sure how she finds a speck of time, for she is as deeply involved in the life of the creative writing department of University of Wyoming (Laramie) as she is in the university's sports program.  She snow shoes and plays championship tennis on the side.  She celebrates students, other writers, townsfolk, horsefolk.  She also writes books.

Oh, good Lord, does she write books.

My entire mood changed as I read the opening pages of Boleto.  My heart beat slowed.  For once again Alyson is doing something new with language, she is pulling me in, she is calming me with the tremendous grace of her talent.  I recalled the tone of Kent Haruf's Plainsong as I read, one of my all-time most favorite books.  I thought of how Alyson never stays in one place, is never happy with a single note, is perpetually tempted by language.

Here, for the time being, are the opening sentences of Boleto.  You are going to hear so much more about this book.  And not just from me, I swear.

She was a gift, though he did not think of her that way for a long time.  He paid twelve hundred dollars for her, money that came straight from his single account at Cabin Valley Bank.  She was halter broke, and trailer broke, and she had been wormed for the spring....  He knew twelve hundred dollars was a bargain for a strong-legged filly with papers.  He knew that even before he saw her.
Yes, reading Alyson Hagy is breathing.


kelly said...

Beautiful! (I know you hate that word, but I love it.)

Lilian Nattel said...

That does draw me in right from the start.

Serena said...

This sounds lovely!

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