It’s always wonderful to see Saint Leo graduates following their dreams after graduating. Sean T. Lahey has done exactly that, as he wrote and published his first book in 2015, titled “Taming the American Horse.” After working as an insurance salesman for a few years Lahey moved to California to pursue his dreams as a writer. The book itself is inspired by some of his adventures out west.
“Taming the American Horse” presents a bit of a conundrum. Parts of the novel are quite enjoyable, while others leave room for sometimes drastic improvement. The book follows a man, Karl Buckham, who decides to leave his desk job and drive across the country on his friend’s Harley. The story starts off a bit slow, but picks up nearer to the middle. Starting a novel with a business meeting, especially one about finances, does not work in the tale’s favor, and many readers might be turned away by how dry the first few pages are. However, once Karl’s adventures begin the book becomes far more engaging.
Karl gets to Texas, and spends the entire second half of the novel there, as due to a series of unfortunate circumstances he ends up stranded. Then, through a multitude of bad choices Karl ends up working with some unsavory characters. Unfortunately, while the middle of the novel was quite interesting and dealt with some interesting introspection from Karl, the ending falls a bit flat. It feels a bit rushed, the climax coming within the last 40 pages of the book, and the conflict itself being resolved within the last 3. This leaves the reader feeling quite unfulfilled, as they never learn what happens to Karl after all of his trials and tribulations. Instead of a bang, the book ends with more of a confused grunt, leaving loose ends untied.
This all being said, the book is not without its merits. Some of the characters feel quite believable and well fleshed out. Tomas, a bartender who Karl befriends, has some wit and charm that makes him feel real, even if he does not have an enormous role in the tale itself. Similarly, Joe, a shady fellow with whom Karl becomes involved, has some real depth to his evil character, and feels like a true villain by the end of the book. Unfortunately, Karl himself falls a bit flat. Most of the time he comes off as rather unpleasant, and at others as a truly awful person. He never really feels likeable, or particularly relatable. This is unfortunate, as the story follows him exclusively, and almost every other character only appears for a few moments at a time.
For all its faults though, the story is entertaining enough. As a first attempt at novel-writing, the book stands up, and will certainly provide a couple hours of enjoyment to some. While not a book for those looking for excessive philosophizing or intellectual exploration, the story itself is a decent one. If Lahey were to attempt a second book, and he learned from the mistakes made in his first work, it could be quite good. All things considered, I’d give “Taming the American Horse” a rating of 3.5/5.