June 30, 2008
Sports Illustrated editor Leerhsen reads July 14
WSUI's "Live from Prairie Lights" will welcome Sports Illustrated editor Charles Leerhsen to a free reading at 7 p.m. Monday, July 14, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. Listen live via the University of Iowa Writing University Web site http://writinguniversity.uiowa.edu.
The event will be recorded for broadcast on Iowa Public Radio's "Live from Prairie Lights" series. Hour-long "Live from Prairie Lights" productions, hosted by WSUI's Julie Englander, air at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Sundays on WSUI-AM 910 in Iowa City and WOI-AM 640 in Ames.
Leerhsen will read from "Crazy Good: The Story of Dan Patch, the Most Famous Horse in America," the now-forgotten saga of Dan Patch, a race horse that at one time drew an estimated 60,000 people to a single event in 1903.
A Publishers Weekly preview observed, "Admitting from the outset that the events of this book may seem as if they transpired on another planet, Leerhsen delivers a mesmerizing look into a strange corner of American sports and folk history when Dan Patch became a household word, earning roughly $1 million a year at a time when, Leerhsen notes, the highest paid baseball player, Ty Cobb, was making $12,000.
"But the heart of the book is Dan Patch himself, a horse with an almost human capacity for calm and determination that deserves to be rediscovered by a modern audience."
Patch was more than a sports star; he was a charismatic cultural icon in the days before the automobile. Born crippled and unable to stand, he was nearly euthanized. For a while, he pulled the grocer's wagon in his hometown of Oxford, Indiana. But when he was entered in a race at the county fair, he won -- and he kept on winning. Harness racing was the top sport in America at the time and Dan, a pacer, set the world record for the mile. He eventually lowered the mark by four seconds, an unheard-of achievement that would not be surpassed for decades.
He became the first celebrity sports endorser; his name appeared on breakfast cereals, washing machines, cigars, razors and sleds. America's favorite horse spent the second half of his career touring the country in a plush private railroad car and putting on speed shows for crowds that sometimes exceeded 100,000 people. But the automobile cooled America's romance with the horse, and by the time he died in 1916, Dan was all but forgotten.
Leerhsen's previous work includes "Press On," co-written with Chuck Yeager, and "The Last Great Ride," co-written with Brandon Tartikoff.
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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.