I hope you’re enjoying the book so far. If you missed the post last week, make sure to check back and read the introduction to the book and check out the trailers for the 2003 Seabiscuit movie and the PBS American Experience documentary.
Before talking about the book, I thought I would share a little information about Laura Hillenbrand. Once you hear about the challenges that Hillenbrand faces on a daily basis, you’ll appreciate her writing style and meticulous attention to detail so much more. Hillenbrand has suffered from myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome, since 1987. Hillenbrand also suffers from extreme vertigo which causes her to be continually dizzy and disoriented. Hillenbrand wrote about her illness in an essay for The New Yorker. Please check it out to see what symptoms she has lived with for so many years. As you can imagine, having all of those debilitating symptoms makes it incredibly hard for Hillenbrand to write. If you’re interested to learn more, check out this interview that appeared in The New York Times Magazine or this video interview she did with Face the Nation.
Now that you know all of this information about Laura Hillenbrand, don’t you feel like you can appreciate the book so much more?
These first chapters mostly introduce the main characters—Red Pollard, Tom Smith, and Charles Howard. What are your thoughts about these interesting men? I feel like Red Pollard would have been a hoot to be around, and I think I would have been really, really intimidated by Tom Smith and all of his knowledge.
The hardest chapter for me to read was the fifth chapter about the conditions under which the jockeys raced. Could you believe all of the horrible things that they did to their bodies? The injuries that so many sustained were hideous enough, but when they were coupled with all of the cutting weight tactics, the results would be horrendous! I can’t believe that any of these men could walk, much less ride a horse. That one story about Ralph Neves, who came back to life and ran around the bandstand was incredible. I’m sure he scared everyone to death when he suddenly appeared on the track.
What are your thoughts of the book so far? Are you enjoying the story and the main characters? What do you think of Hillenbrand’s writing style?
I hope to hear from you in the comments section. And make sure to join us next week as we read the second section, chapters 7 to 20.