Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Our Man at the Track

Several things to post in the next day or two, but I've been busy finishing up a piece for The Second Pass. What piece? Why, thanks for asking. This piece, about horse racing chronicler Joe Palmer. It starts:
Throughout its history from 1924 to 1966, the New York Herald Tribune featured a high-class stable of writers: Walter Lippmann, Joseph Mitchell, John Ashbery, Red Smith, William Safire, Lewis Lapham, and briefly, near the end of the paper’s run, Jimmy Breslin and Tom Wolfe. The newspaper business doesn’t lend itself to lasting memories, and most of those names are familiar for the work they did after leaving the Herald Tribune. Another of the paper’s great talents, Joe H. Palmer, died while employed there and is now largely unknown even among those who share the passion for his subject.

The greatest handicap to Palmer’s standing in posterity was his area of expertise, horse racing, its widespread popularity in the 1940s now only approached on the days of Triple Crown races, if then. But if the nature of a beat should never limit the legacy of a writer’s prose, the slight is particularly unjust in the case of Palmer, who reached an audience far beyond the paddocks.
Please trust me that you don't need to care about horse racing to enjoy the excerpts in the review.

(Pictured above: Man o' War winning the 1920 Belmont Stakes.)


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