Short stories are like those mini-desserts or mini-appetizers, depending on the story, and perfect for those mini-reading-cravings when we want some reading but don’t have the time for something more. And I do love myself both the short stories and those mini-eats! And sometimes, just one is not enough and I find myself at the end of the whole anthology (or if I am talking about those foods, then at the bottom of the empty box!)
Which is why I cannot resist joining in the Deal Me In Reading Challenge every year. I do read many short stories each year but don’t end up posting about them regularly so hopefully I do both this time around.
‘The Rocking Horse Winner’ is forweek one of the challenge.It just seemed a weird coincidence that I am reading another book that mentions horse racing and the Kentucky Derby.
Deal Me In Reading Challenge
The Rocking Horse Winner
Week One – The King of Clubs – The Rocking Horse Winner by D.H.Lawrence
About the Story
D. H. Lawrence’s “The Rocking-Horse Winner” was first published in July 1926, in Harper’s Bazaar, and described in the magazine’s table of contents as “A Gripping Tale of a Little English Boy.” The editors of Harper’s Bazaar inserted descriptive text beneath the short story’s title that said: “A Story About Young England that May Mystify You but Will be Sure to Grip You.”
In November 1925, Lady Cynthia Asquith asked Lawrence to contribute to a collection of ghost stories she planned to publish. This story was the result of that effort (after he had written another short titled ‘Glad Ghosts’). Though the story did first appear in ‘Harper’s Bazaar’, it eventually found its way into ‘The Ghost Book, 16 New Stories of the Uncanny Compiled by Lady Cynthia Asquith’ in September of the same year.
Summary and My Thoughts
This begins has elements of a fairy tale as it begins with the words “There was a woman who was beautiful, who started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck. “ Pretty soon, it turns darker, as we realize that the house she lives in with her husband, three children, and discreet servants is haunted by material greed. Whispers of “need more money” are heard all around and the children grow with the knowledge that money is the be-all and end-all for love, life, and happiness.
Paul aka the rocking horse winner, does all he can to win his mother’s heart, which as he and his siblings and his mother herself knew to be “a hard little place that could not feel love, no, not for anybody. ” But little does he know the high cost of doing so.
This story does grip you, and leaves you feeling a bit unsettled, like you have eaten just one too many of those mini-eats I mentioned earlier, but also awed at the power of words. After all, this is fiction, and yet….
As I read this, I wondered about parenting then and parenting now, about the responsibilities of parents and of children within the family unit, about the impact of parents’ fears and obsessions on their kids, about the effect of greed and lust on humans, and about the price of following one’s desires blindly and to the exclusion of everything else, among other things. Suffice to say, this short story is dark and leaves one with heavy thoughts.
So, yes, it starts like those pleasant ‘once upon a time’ tales, weaves in magical superpowers with dark fantasy, and leaves us with heavy thoughts.
If you enjoy watching ‘The Twilight Zone’ or loved stories like ‘The Lottery’ or ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’, or simply enjoy dark fantasies with morals that are not preached at you, you should read this.
Side note one: Today, I started one of my classes in a local community college. And it is a business class. The lecturer gave one definition of economics during class that I noted down as the ‘study of how society allocates scarce resources in the attempt to satisfy unlimited wants.’ And as I wrote this post, I noticed a parallel in those unlimited wants!
Side note two (about the random card generator): For years, I have been meaning to get a fancy playing card set and I did one year, but ended up giving it to someone else. So now I am going to stick with this random card generator until I buy myself another fancy card set just for this purpose!
Sources: oldimprints.com, wikipedia,