Ride a Cockhorse (Paperback)
A revolution is under way at a once sleepy New England bank. Forty-five-year-old Frances Fitzgibbons has gone from sweet-tempered loan officer to insatiable force of nature almost overnight. Suddenly she’s brazenly seducing the high-school drum major, taking over her boss’s office, firing anyone who crosses her, inspiring populist fervor, and publicly announcing plans to crush her local rivals en route to dominating the entire banking industry in the northeast. The terrifying new order instituted by Frankie and her offbeat goon squad (led by her devoted hairdresser and including her own son-in-law) is an awesome spectacle to behold.
Brimming with snappy dialogue and gleeful obscenity, Ride a Cockhorse is a rollicking cautionary tale of small-town demagoguery that might be seen to prefigure both America’s current financial woes and the rise of Sarah Palin. Frances is in any case a beautiful monster of an antiheroine—resist her at your peril!
About the Author
Raymond Kennedy (1934–2008) was born and raised in western Massachusetts. In 1982, he joined the creative writing faculty at Columbia University, where he taught until his retirement in 2006. Kennedy’s other novels include My Father’s Orchard; Goodnight, Jupiter; Columbine; The Flower of the Republic; Lulu Incognito; The Bitterest Age; and The Romance of Eleanor Gray.
Katherine A. Powers’s column on books and writers ran for many years in The Boston Globe and now appears in The Barnes & Noble Review under the title “A Reading Life.” She is the editor of Suitable Accommodations: An Autobiographical Story of Family Life—The Letters of J. F. Powers, 1942–1963, forthcoming in 2013.
Praise for Ride a Cockhorse…
“Ride a Cockhorse is at once high comedy and a mordant account of the paranoid personality, but this is only part of the elaborate business that Kennedy has undertaken; he has also brought off the improbable if not impossible—a novel about a bank! The best comic novel to come my way in a long time.” —Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
“Business booms for Mrs. Fitz, but then the hilarious manipulations of the press and her superiors give way to a Fascistic reign of terrors over her inferiors, and Mr. Kennedy has us pinned at precisely the point where the comic turns nasty.” —The New Yorker
“Perhaps the funniest American novel since John Kennedy Toole’s prize winner, A Confederacy of Dunces.” —Newsweek
“God knows, it must be hard to write a funny book about New England banking, but Kennedy has done it . . . Frankie Fitzgibbons is an inspired creation, a cross between Maggie Thatcher and Darth Vader.” —Boston Phoenix
“Kennedy is a master storyteller . . . The author’s vision has to do with a real wisdom of the heart.” —Raymond Carver
“A wonderful comic . . . a ribald, risible and riveting read.” —People Magazine
“Truly . . . one of this country’s finest writers.” —Boston Globe
“The kind of novelist who gets high praise in sophisticated places.” —Anatole Broyard, The New York Times
“There are plenty of funny scenes in Ride a Cockhorse, a number of them good enough to make you laugh out loud.” —New York Newsday
“Ferociously comic . . . a believable blend of farce and tragedy. Raymond Kennedy is a novelist of such diabolical artistry that he may be the most original American writer since Flannery O’Connor . . .” —Joseph Coates, The Chicago Tribune
“If a sentence Raynond Kennedy wrote, then it is a sentence an artist made.” —Gordon Lish
"It's only the very rare work that can officially be deemed a classic a mere twenty-one years after its publication, but such a one is Raymond Kennedy's Ride a Cockhorse, newly republished New York Review Books' marvelous Classics series. I can't imagine how I missed Ride a Cockhorse the first time around, for it is one of the funniest novels I've ever picked up and also quite sui generis: Kennedy's voice is entirely idiosyncratic, his tale of a reign of terror at an unremarkable Connecticut valley bank a startling mixture of the ludicrous and the appalling." —Brooke Allen, Barnes and Noble Review