Posted in Fiction

Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter

She slipped down in the chair and leaned against the dusty plush, closed her eyes and faced for one instant that was a lifetime the certain, the overwhelming and awful knowledge that there was nothing at all ahead for Adam and her. Nothing. She opened her eyes and held her hands together palms up, gazing at them and trying to understand oblivion.

According to wikipedia, Katherine Anne Porter did not like the term “novella” applied to Pale Horse, Pale Rider. She preferred the term “short novel”. At 48 pages, I’m more than willing to acknowledge the author’s preference and shamelessly count it as an entire book when counting the number of books I’ve read.

It’s 1918 and Adam and Miranda are in love – both in the emotional romantic sense and in the “for better or worse, in sickness and in health” sense. The story’s backdrop is World War I and the Spanish Influenza epidemic. As readers we don’t root for Adam and Miranda’s love because it’s already there. We root for their survival.

Pale Horse, Pale Rider was published at the outset of World War II in 1939 but that post World War I American disillusionment shines bright.


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