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A Fine Place to Daydream


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About the Author

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.


Barich, a former New Yorker writer, moves to Dublin after falling in love with an Irish woman, but shortly after his arrival he develops an (arguably) even stronger passion for gambling on Irish horse races. This obsession is an extension of his longstanding infatuation with the racetrack (which was the basis for his 1980 classic, Laughing at the Hills). But the steeplechase popular throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom is an entirely different type of race, where a horse's jumping skills matter as much as speed. Barich follows a steeplechase season from October to March, culminating in a weeklong series of races at Cheltenham, England, and consults as many horse trainers, jockeys, bookies and fellow fans as he can find to get the inside dope on how he should place his bets. His narrative is simple but elegant, and his language is erudite without being pretentious. (When he slips in an allusion to Ulysses, for example, it's so casual that it won't stop readers who don't catch it.) The book's setting may be exotic to American readers, but the sheer joy of being a sports fan will be familiar to many. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

A staff writer for The New Yorker and literary laureate of the San Francisco Public Library, novelist and sportswriter Barich recently upped and left the Bay Area for Dublin. Here are some reasons why. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"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

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