reading: Half Broke Horses

As literature often does, this book got me reflecting on my own story and relationships, and applying the results in the book to the decisions I have to make. I think we often look to stories – books, TV shows, movies – to decide “how to be” and to anticipate what might happen, really, for better or worse. Because sometimes we learn a universal truth, but sometimes we pick up a fear that prevents us from taking a risk, but without knowing that in *my* life, this thing could have played out differently.

Anyway, Half Broke Horses is the follow-up prequel to The Glass Castle, the author’s memoir, which is still one of my most favorite books, ever. In Half Broke Horses she writes her grandma’s story in the first person. It’s fascinating and a great story but didn’t blow my mind in the same way as her own story.

I read Glass Castle a few years ago and continue to apply one of the characters in the book to people I meet. The dad, Rex, always tells his kids that someday when one of his inventions pays off, they’re going to live in a glass castle – so they family sort of wanders around, town to town, while he does odd jobs and works on these wild inventions, and nobody appreciates it because, of course, he’s mostly full of shit.

So, I like ideas. When I worked for a startup I became familiar with Scott Belsky and his book “Making Ideas Happen” and blog that used to be called “The 99 Percent.” The concept is that the idea is just one percent, and the other 99 is hard work. That gets me, because I have notebooks full of ideas (initially ideas for novels, more recently ideas for tech startups or online publications) but I am terrible at following through with anything (as my mom will agree).

And when you work around startups you tend to meet people with big ideas. And I’m skeptical, because I think to myself, is this a glass castle guy? Is he just talking up this dream in order to escape the monotony of life, or is it actually going to be a thing? This goes for guys I might want to date as much as the ones I might consider working for.

So the writer, whose dad is the glass castle guy, ends up marrying a very solid predictable banker or something, if I remember correctly – the opposite of her dad – but ends up splitting with him and is now with a fellow writer. As a creative person, I wonder if I need another wanderer, flighty, ideas person – or if I need someone who is capable of making ideas happen (because I’m not, at least not yet).

Moving on to Half Broke Horses. Now, this is the grandma – who’s adventurous, but also works hard. She marries a guy in Chicago who says he’s a traveling salesman but is actually also married to someone else, with kids. I think the lesson here is to not date someone in sales 🙂

So that ends for her, obviously, and she ends up with Jim, who is the most solid “make it happen” guy who’s sort of a genius at both fixing cars and running a ranch. Despite their success, and best intentions, their daughter is the flighty painter who eventually marries Rex, the glass castle guy – and you will have to read the book to see where that lands them (insane).