Robert Lipsyte Pete Axthelm - Essay

Pete Axthelm

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["Something Going"] is about thoroughbred horse racing, but it is definitely not recommended to anyone who cherishes a belief in the romance of the turf. "Something Going" is a hard-edged, thoroughly unsentimental look at a precarious old-world society in the throes of an upheaval it can't even begin to comprehend. There are no heroes among the pompous aristocrats, struggling horsemen or exploited stablehands in this fast-moving book; there are only lost and frightened men, grasping desperately at crumbling pillars of tradition that can no longer support the structure of a world whose time is past. (p. 93)

[Lipsyte and Cady's] novel is loosely based on the horsemen's boycott that tore open New York racing in 1969, exposing ugly pockets of high-level bigotry and lower-level venality—and leaving scars on the sport's once-placid façade. The authors have channeled all the raw emotion of that boycott into a suspenseful narrative that should enthrall racetrack regulars, denizens of off-track betting parlors, and even readers who don't know what a morning line is. (pp. 93-4)

[All] the spoils prove illusory and, in the end, nobody wins that one big bet. Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope in one black groom's affirmation of his own manhood…. For the most part, however, Lipsyte and Cady have painted a dark fictional picture of big-time racing that may well be no darker than the truth. (p. 94)

Pete Axthelm, "Down the Stretch," in Newsweek (copyright 1973, by Newsweek, Inc.; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), Vol. LXXXI, No. 14, April 2, 1973, pp. 93-4.