Apr 3, 2010

A Horse Called Hustle is not called Hustle

A Horse Called Hustle
by CJ Love
2009

Jessa Wilder's grandfather has one small desire: to win back the horse that was stolen from him in a poker game by that stack-the-deck, horse-pinching card sharp Cole Hannible. Jessa is not above fleecing the average man in a game of poker. That's why she's the Seven-Card Stud Shootout Champion of the Southeast. But Cole Hannible isn't your average man, and even though Jessa bluffs him for a while, he's got an ace up his sleeve called revenge. Jessa Wilder will never get her hands on his Triple Crown winner, A Horse Called Hustle. He's made sure of it...and it could cost them both their hearts.

In case you were wondering, the horse isn't called Hustle. The horse is called A Horse Called Hustle. It's kind of like saying my name is That Girl Called Mara. Think how fantastic our lives would be if we named things this way? Somehow, I think redundancy would be the least of our problems.

Anyway, Jessa (or The Girl They Call Jessica, But She Prefers Jessa), has arrived in Ocala. Or somewhere around in there. Due to some extreme planning of heights never reached before by man, she arrives at a gas station, where Cole (or The Dastardly but Beautiful Man Named Cole) has been working on his truck. She accidentally honks the horn, and he just happens to wander over to make her look like a moron, and incidentally notices she's leaking oil all over the place. She refuses his help, drives off, finds him later on the road with his broken down truck, and offers to drive him to this 4,500 acre thoroughbred farm. So the plan to get Cole to lose his Triple Crown winner via poker is well under way.

Right around here I suspected this story was going to turn to hilarity. It started when Cole picks up a rifle and jumps into Jessa's Porsche, which then promptly breaks down as a hurricane whirls up and leaves them deserted on some Florida highway. Jessa then reveals her cat named Stanley, who follows them determinedly through the woods as they attempt to walk through the hurricane on their way to Cole's farm.

They don't make it, and stumble into an abandoned barn, where they decide to pass the time by playing poker, all in hopes that Jessa will somehow get Cole to bet his Triple Crown winner, A Horse Called Hustle. That doesn't exactly happen, but she does get him to bet a "horse of her choice," and this is written out all nice and legal on a Taco Bell napkin.

So, to recap, this ploy to get Cole to lose his famous horse to her in a poker game included:
1. Strategically out of gas Porsche
2. Ignorance involving how to pump gas
3. The wild hope that Cole will happen to be at this gas station at this precise time
4. Sabotaging Cole's truck so it will break down
5. Cutting the Porsche's oil line so that it will break down after she has managed to pick up Cole
6. A HURRICANE

The hurricane passes, so Cole, Jessa and Stanley the cat go on their merry way. They run into the angriest cow on the face of the earth, cross a river by jumping through trees (with a house cat, mind you) and randomly wind up back at the cars. Someone picks them up and says, "Oh, hey, that's The Girl They Call Jessica, But She Prefers Jessa WILDER. You know, the granddaughter of the guy you hate who wants your horse?" And Cole gets all upset and refuses to speak to Jessa, even after she sends him twenty steaks and balloons and Hallmark cards and essentially decides that she'd rather not screw around with him and his horse. Of course, he does not tell her he hates her to her face, he sends her a telegram. Apparently Cole does not believe in pretty and insulting greeting cards.

And then the real fun starts. Cole and Jessa's grandfather, That Guy Named Pappy or Poppy or Somebody, "hate" each other. And they take this hatred out on each other through ridiculous pranks that seem to have some meaning, but I failed to really care. The important thing here is that Jessa is on Cole's To Prank list. This inevitably involves a "haunted house" and the reenactment of what I recognized to be my life as a college student. Eventually Jessa and Cole find themselves lost in Florida again, restlessly searching for a BP that never appears.

The pranks continue continuing. Cole outbids Jessa on all those Norwegian Fjords she wanted just to irk her, etc. Then someone lets a bull into the stud barn, scattering stallions in all directions. Cole blames Jessa for this incident, shakes her around because this is romantic and not abusive, and then randomly decides to play poker with Paddy or Pappy or whoever for her hand in marriage or what not. He loses. No one cares. Because the The Girl They Call Jessica, But She Prefers Jessa is more loved than A Horse Called Hustle.

I suppose they get married and have many fantastic adventures in the woods of Florida.

Just some random quotes:

- Slapping him on the back, they congratulated him for surviving the wilds and facing the hurricane like a man. It was a guy moment.

- It was all very dramatic as the sun sank lower in the sky and the lamps beneath the oak trees lit automatically.

- "We're grown men. By god, you have to be a man to pull some of the stunts we've...they've pulled. And you have to have a driver's license, and know someone who's studied electricity, or at least physics. A lawyer comes in handy once in awhile. We're men, okay?"

- Not hungry, Jessa approached the free-sample lady, thinking to pass the time.

- "Taco Bell," he said aloud. "I guess it's time to go south of the border."

- "Where are you going?" "To stare out the window."

As you can see, this book was about two parts hilarious and one part awesome. It has no clue on the horse end of things, but I think I was too entranced by the rest of it to even begin noticing that problem.

That said: hour and a half of your time, tops. It's time well spent.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What are you reading now / going to read next?