"BOLETO," by Alyson Hagy, Graywolf Press, $24, 251 pages (f)
While a relationship between a man and his horse may be simple, how that man makes his way in the world and finds people he can trust is certainly more complicated.
In "Boleto," Will Testerman is determined to make something of his life. He grew up on his family's Wyoming ranch and learned to train horses.
Money is tight in his family and with his mother's cancer in remission, she encourages him to follow his own path as Will uses his savings to buy and train a quarter horse — one that might earn him a reputation. But he's branching out by training her as a polo horse.
The story is divided into three parts with part one centered on the family ranch, where he initially trains the horse under the doubtful eyes of his father and some of his brothers. The second part is set at a guest ranch in the Absaroka Mountains, where he's working for the summer and training the filly as he has time.
In the third part, he heads to Southern California on the verbal promise of a polo ranch owner. But trying to read people and determine their intentions, especially when they have pride, power and greed backed up with money, can be a combination that can put a man in a precarious situation.
Will is methodical in training the horse, which he doesn't name until close to the end of the book. Alison Hagy provides detailed descriptions of the horses in the book along with the training Will uses to slowly gain the horse's trust as he tells her stories. The pacing of the book is just as slow and methodical as Hagy weaves her tale of a horseman finding his niche.
Those who enjoy Western fiction and are ready for a slower pace, along with a peek into the patient and yet very different worlds surrounding horse training, will find a unique story in Hagy's detailed and precise descriptions of the life of a young horse trainer trying to find his niche.
There is occasional swearing throughout "Boleto," along with sexual encounters and innuendo and drinking.
If you go ...
What: Alyson Hagy book signing
When: Thursday, May 31, 7 p.m.
Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City