I’m celebrating my 66th birthday today, and I was delighted to read that 66-year-old Jaimy Gordon, an obscure writer of horseracing novels, just won the National Book Award for fiction for her book Lord of Misrule. The book was published by a lone wolf of literature, Bruce McPherson, who is the sole employee of McPherson & Company Publishers.
Talk about a long shot—according to a New York Times article on December 16, Ms. Gordon regarded herself as such an outlier at the awards ceremony she neglected to prepare acceptance remarks, or even buy a new dress for the ceremony.
I find her story inspiring. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and teaches at Western Michigan University. She grew up around racetracks and says she comes from a family of horseplayers. Her previous books sold bupkis. Consider her a 1000/1 shot to win the most prestigious award in American fiction.
Recently, Noah, Emily and I have been reading through 10 years of Screw Machine World and Today’s Machining World for our 10th anniversary “Best of” issue (Jan./Feb. of 2011). The thought has occurred to me to publish a whole book of articles (actually, why not three?), harvested from the old magazines.
I find the parallel with Jaimy Gordon eerily serendipitous. She writes about “the track” while I’ve worked as a machinery gambler for 40 years. When I used to talk weekly with my old business guru, Bel Small, about the machine tool wars, his opening greeting was usually, “How are things at the track?”
It put my world in perspective.
I think most people who own a small business understand the racetrack analogy. Business is a gamble. Figuring a machining job is a gamble. Bringing out a new product is a gamble. Ordering dies or tooling is a gamble.
Ain’t it nice to see a long shot come in.
Question: What are your three favorite racing movies or books (animals, humans or vehicles).
Trailer from the film, Racing Stripes. What better underdog than a zebra?