Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday: Wild Horses in Laguna Beach

DEANNE STILLMAN will read from her new book, "Mustang: The Saga of the Wild Horse in the American West," at Laguna Beach Books, 1200 S. PCH (at the Old Pottery Place). Friday October 10 - 6 PM

from Pam Houston's review in the LA Times:

In devoting 10 years of her life to the writing of "Mustang," Stillman joins those crusading women -- among them mustang advocate Wild Horse Annie (who said, "A woman can go far with a girdle and a can of hair spray") -- who believe that one person can effect positive change in the world. Like the best nonfiction writers of our time (Jon Krakauer and Bruce Chatwin come to mind), Stillman's prose is inviting, her voice authoritative and her vision imaginative and impressively broad. One cannot read "Mustang" in its entirety without realizing that it is possible to look at every single transformative event in North American culture through the lens of equine history -- that there is no way to even consider the history of the American West without first considering the horse.

Perhaps what is most interesting about this intelligent and lovingly assembled account is Stillman's illumination of the psychology behind our conflicted feelings about the horse. "[T]he horse's ability to provide flight was universally desired, and nowhere is this desire more pronounced, more extreme, than in America, where escape and the chance to start over is not a pipe dream, but a birthright," she writes. "[W]e worship cowboys and we're jacked on freedom and we love moving fast through wide-open space, preferably on a cactus-lined highway in our most iconic car, the Mustang, whose grill features a galloping pony." The Marines who shot the horses in the desert, Stillman suggests, may have been experiencing feelings akin to those of the protagonist of "Equus," who falls deeply in love with horses and then, in "an ecstatic frenzy," blinds six of them: "The horses have roiled the young man, stirred his juices, mirrored his wild side and even stoked it. But they have also seen his shame and must be destroyed." Perhaps the wild mustang reflects back to us, too keenly, our loss of freedom. "[T]he horse is our great silent witness. . . . [H]e knows too much, and we can't take it."


And later in this weekend, on Sunday October 12, the same bookstore, Laguna Beach Books, hosts Orange County's first open mic writer's night, an event that will occur the second Sunday of every month beginning in October. Writers of both fiction and non-fiction pieces are encouraged to attend. This event will be facilitated by writer Meredith Resnick.

Writers are given a time limit of three minutes to read their work, which allows for a fast-paced evening with tightly-edited pieces, great writing and the opportunity to meet, mingle and muse about the craft.

A $5 donation at the door is welcome (to cover incidentals and to keep the fun going).


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