James Lawton: Barich shows us power of sport

Sometimes a writer who has given deep and lasting pleasure reappears like an old and valued friend.

Sometimes a writer who has given deep and lasting pleasure reappears like an old and valued friend.

This happened yesterday when my colleague the racing correspondent Richard Edmondson warmly reviewed Bill Barich's A Fine Place to Daydream - an account of the American horse fancier's journey down the thoroughfares and by-ways of Irish racing.

It is many years since Barich wrote Laughter in the Hills, which was only partly about a season spent in and around the backstretch of the Golden Gate course in San Francisco.

Barich wrote about the characters of the track, and how they helped the healing process he felt he needed after the loss of his still young mother. The book lives vividly in the memory. It was a beautiful rendition of a pivotal phase of a man's life. It also reminded us of the power of sport to take us into other, less painful worlds.

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