I hesitated before reviewing this book although it’s one of my favourites. It’s one of a number of books that I select when I want to sit and relax for a while. These books are mainly images of horses, photographs and paintings; some have poems or prose to accompany them and others have brief descriptions of the images.
There is no text accompanying the photographic images of The Horse is Good by Viggo Mortensen and that, I am sure, is quite deliberate. The images speak for themselves and the narrative that they relate is that of the fluid, ever-changing life of the nomad, from the plains of north America to the deserts of north Africa and Mongolia.
Vivid and impressionistic, the horses are mostly glimpsed rather than seen, but ever present. The monochrome images test the eye; is the moisture on the coat of one of the horses sweat, or blood? The gritty texture of the ground under the shadow of a horse and rider creates a trompe l’oeil image of a ghostly, crumpled cowboy. A horse floats on the rippling fabric of a tepee. Focussing on the neck and rumpled mane of one horse creates an impression of landscape.
The images I’ve chosen will give an idea of the breadth and scale offered by these images. This book is a little treasure from a man who loves horses and shares his life with them and that’s something that can’t really be expressed in words.
The Horse is Good by Viggo Mortensen, published by the Perceval Press, 2004, is available from http://www.percevalpress.com/horse.html and is priced at USD30 plus shipping.