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Read an Excerpt from Jaimy Gordon's National Book Award-Winning Lord of Misrule

Winner of the 2010 National Book Award for Fiction, Lord of Misrule is Jaimy Gordon’s brilliant novel about the dusty, dark, and beautiful world of small-time horse racing. On Tuesday, March 8th, this national bestseller will be available in paperback and in eBook for the first time.

The praise for Lord of Misrule is glowing: The Washington Post and Time Magazine named it Best Book of the Year, The New York Times called it “Assured, exotic and uncategorizable…. An incontrovertible winner, a bona fide bolt from the blue,” and The Los Angeles Times noted that “Gordon’s language is so textured that her pages seem three-dimensional.” The book has also been nominated for the 2011 PEN/Faulkner Award.

In preparation for the release of the paperback and the eBook, we’ve put together a reading group guide to get your group talking. Click here to download the guide, and read on for an exclusive excerpt from the book.


Inside the back gate of Indian Mound Downs, a hot-walking machine creaked round and round. In the judgment of Medicine Ed, walking a horse himself on the shedrow of Barn Z, the going-nowhere contraption must be the lost soul of this cheap racetrack where he been ended up at. It was stuck there in the gate, so you couldn’t get out. It filled up the whole road between a hill of horse manure against the backside fence, stubbled with pale dirty straw like a penitentiary haircut, and a long red puddle in the red dirt, a puddle that was almost a pond. Right down to the sore horses at each point of the silver star, it resembled some woebegone carnival ride, some skeleton of a two-bit ride dreamed up by a dreamer too tired to dream. There’d been no rain all August and by now the fresh worked horses were half lost in the pink cloud of their own shuffling. Red dust from those West Virginia hills rode in their wide open nostrils and stuck to their squeezebox lungs. Red dust, working its devilment, he observed to himself, but he shut his mouth. They were not his horses.

Medicine Ed led his own horse round the corner of the shedrow. What was the name of this animal? If he had heard it, Medicine Ed didn’t recall. It was a big red three-year-old, dumb as dirt, that Zeno had vanned up for the fourth race, a maiden without a scratch on him. A van ride on race day did for many a horse, but this boy had rolled out the van as calm as that puddle yonder, for he felt good and didn’t know nothing. True, he had no class. He was the throwaway kind, a heavy-head sprinter who looked like a quarter horse, with a chest like a car radiator. He must not know what was coming, for once he was sore, he might last to age five, with luck.

Click here to read the rest of the excerpt. Click here for more information about the paperback, and click here for more information about the eBook.