A Fine Place to Daydream
Racehorses, Romance, and the Irish
By Bill Barich
(Vintage, Paperback, 9781400078097, 240pp.)
Publication Date: February 13, 2007
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Twenty-five years after Laughing in the Hills, his racetrack classic, Bill Barich tells the story of how he fell in love and found a new life in Dublin, where he was soon caught up in the Irish obsession with horses and luck. Barich travels his adopted country and meets the leading trainers and jockeys; the beleaguered bookies who work rain or shine; and a host of passionate, like-minded fans—from Father Sean Breen, the “Racing Priest,” to T. P. Reilly, whose peculiar betting system turns on a horse’s looks.
Witty, philosophical, and vividly written, A Fine Place to Daydream is a paean to the real Ireland, a moving tale of a surprise romance, and a thrilling account of a hugely exciting season at the track.
Bill Barich has lived in Northern California for most of his life. For many years he was a staff writer at The New Yorker, contributing fiction and nonfiction alike. His honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship and inclusion in Best American Short Stories. He is a Literary Laureate of the San Francisco Public Library and currently lives in Dublin.
“An easy, fluid stylist, Barich writes entertainingly about anything, but in Irish racing he has grabbed on to a good thing. . . . Samuel Johnson could not have said it better.” —The New York Times
“Like a horse that senses the ability of its rider and responds accordingly, readers know when they are immersed in the work of a master. Barich makes a winning companion–he's warm, funny and relaxed.” —The Washington Post Book World
“Captivating. . . . Mr. Barich recaptures much of the feel and compass of his first narrative of the equine life, once again weaving a broad tartan from scores of interviews with inhabitants of every corner of the horseracing industry.” —The Wall Street Journal
“The author, who a quarter century ago in Laughing in the Hills found inherent majesty in the broken-down plugs that race on the Northern California circuit, embraces Irish jumpers with similar enthusiasm.” —Chicago Sun-Times