Ride a Cockhorse

Ride a Cockhorse

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    A revolution is under way at a once sleepy New England bank. Forty-five-year-old Frances Fitzgibbons has gone from sweet-tempered loan officer to insatiable force of nature almost overnight. Suddenly she’s brazenly seducing the high-school drum major, taking over her boss’s office, firing anyone who crosses her, inspiring populist fervor, and publicly announcing plans to crush her local rivals en route to dominating the entire banking industry in the northeast. The terrifying new order instituted by Frankie and her offbeat goon squad (led by her devoted hairdresser and including her own son-in-law) is an awesome spectacle to behold.
             Brimming with snappy dialogue and gleeful obscenity, Ride a Cockhorse is a rollicking cautionary tale of small-town demagoguery that might be seen to prefigure both America’s current financial woes and the rise of Sarah Palin. Frances is in any case a beautiful monster of an antiheroine—resist her at your peril!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590175040
Publisher: New York Review Books
Publication date: 06/19/2012
Series: NYRB Classics Series
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 328
File size: 509 KB

About the Author

Raymond Kennedy (1934–2008) was born and raised in western Massachusetts. In 1982, he joined  the creative writing faculty at Columbia University, where he taught until his retirement in 2006. Kennedy’s other novels include My Father’s Orchard; Goodnight, Jupiter; Columbine; The Flower of the Republic; Lulu Incognito; The Bitterest Age; and The Romance of Eleanor Gray.

Katherine A. Powers’s column on books and writers ran for many years in The Boston Globe and  now appears in The Barnes & Noble Review under the title “A Reading Life.” She is the editor of  Suitable Accommodations: An Autobiographical Story of Family Life—The Letters of J. F. Powers, 1942–1963, forthcoming in 2013.

Table of Contents

“Perhaps the funniest American novel since John Kennedy Toole’s prize winner, A Confederacy of Dunces.”Newsweek
“God knows, it must be hard to write a funny book about New England banking, but Kennedy has done it . . . Frankie Fitzgibbons is an inspired creation, a cross between Maggie Thatcher and Darth Vader.” —Boston Phoenix
“Kennedy is a master storyteller . . . The author’s vision has to do with a real wisdom of the heart.” —Raymond Carver
“Raymond Kennedy’s writing has the touch of magic.” —The New Yorker
“Delicious and diabolical . . . Kennedy is a wonderfully gifted stylist who in this novel shows all his gifts to best advantage. Comedy is [its] great strength—that, and the rich, boisterous prose from which all else in Ride a Cockhorse grows.” —Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
“Exuberant . . . daring, imaginative . . . the best comic novel to come by way in a long time.” —Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
“A wonderful comic . . . a ribald, risible and riveting read.” —People Magazine
“Outrageous . . . Kennedy creates extravagant characters and settings with such vigor and originality that they exist magically on the printed page.” —People
“Truly . . . one of this country’s finest writers.” —Boston Globe
“Much of [Kennedy’s] writing is buoyant—rambunctious, vertiginous. In his novels, which are like no others in their imagery, vision, and dark comic brio, powerful forces of evil, of dominance, assault the innocent or unwary.” —Katherine A. Powers, Boston Globe
“The kind of novelist who gets high praise in sophisticated places.” —Anatole Broyard, The New York Times
“There are plenty of funny scenes in Ride a Cockhorse, a number of them good enough to make you laugh out loud.” —New York Newsday
“Ferociously comic . . . a believable blend of farce and tragedy. Raymond Kennedy is a novelist of such diabolical artistry that he may be the most original American writer since Flannery O’Connor . . .” —Joseph Coates, The Chicago Tribune
“The dialogue is brittle, snappy, and often howlingly funny. Frankie Fitzgibbons is an inspired creation, a cross between Maggie Thatcher and Darth Vader, and her coterie of worshippers will keep you chuckling.” —Boston Phoenix
“If a sentence Raynond Kennedy wrote, then it is a sentence an artist made.” —Gordon Lish
“A beautiful talent.” —James Purdy
“Hilarious” —The New Yorker
“Just before the opening of this painfully funny novel by the author of Lulu Incognito , mild-mannered Mrs. Fitzgibbons, a respectable New England widow and a stalwart home-loan official in a local bank, has awakened to a sudden personality transformation that will eventually lead to full-blown psychosis. At first feeling pleasantly buoyed, Mrs. Fitzgibbons confidently--and uproariously--seduces the high school's drum major; then she unleashes her newfound oratorical flourish and gargantuan ambition on her office mates. Before she finally goes overboard, she has unseated her boss, chalked up some stunning media coups, gained a cult-like following and begun shaking up the region's banking industry. The story itself is not lighthearted, and in fact depicts manic behavior quite accurately, but Kennedy's own antic joy in wielding language with uncanny comic precision will have readers laughing their way through his tale--until the conclusion startles them into realizing that Mrs. Fitzgibbons has been visited by a catastrophe, more exaggerated than most but sadly common. This is comedy made all the more potent by its last-minute kick.” —Publishers Weekly
“A woman who curdles the blood but can't be begrudged credit for her audacity is the monster at the center of this outrageous and funny novel. Kennedy (Columbine, The Flower of the Republic, Lulu Incognito) has served up imperious women in sex-role reversals before, but he may be unlikely to top this one. Frankie Fitzgibbon is a hitherto mild-mannered home-loan officer when, at 45 and a widow, she flips. The new Frankie is sexually aggressive (wielding her breasts like stun guns) and a demon strategist and mesmerizing spieler whose ruthlessness would make Genghis Khan look like Gandhi. Her aim is to take over her bank and then take on the entire New England banking industry. Opponents tumble like tenpins, others are humbled into being willing slaves. She seduces a 17-year-old high-school drum major for her boy toy and becomes the goddess of a gay hairdresser, stereotypically named Bruce. Gay rights'—and for that matter, women's rights'— partisans may not be pleased. The ''Cockhorse'' in the title can take a Freudian reading. Frankie is always depicted as being utterly self-righteous, and even hurt at not being understood, no matter how low the blow she deals others. Her relentless monologues of self-justification get a little wearisome. Kennedy cannot entirely avoid monotony in a story so focused on a single monomaniac, although he tries by continually raising the hurdles his protagonist kicks over. Particularly comic are Frankie's relationship with her ecology-minded daughter, her opposite in every way, and with her proper little boss, who doesn't know what he's in for when he gives her head. A bravura, darkly comic performance by a novelist who matches his outsized heroine in effrontery.” —Kirkus Review

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