Excerpt from The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness by Joel ben Izzy, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness

by Joel ben Izzy

The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Nov 2003, 228 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2005, 240 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Lenny had collected many such grains over the years and they stuck to him, like grit to sandpaper, which may account for his personality. Yet his warning comes to mind whenever I use the word "truth."

That said, I'll tell you my tale essentially as it happened, though I will change some parts along the way, for that is what we storytellers do. Yet, as you read this book, you may find some things that strike you as flat-out unbelievable. I know, for that is just how they struck me when they happened. These are things I could not have made up, and so I'll leave them unchanged. As Mark Twain said: "Truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't."

With that, sit back and let me tell you my tale, of a journey that took me through dark times, yet gave me a gift that I treasure. That gift is this story, which I now pass on to you -- a tale of lost horses and found wisdom, of buried treasures and wild strawberries, of the beggar king and the secret of happiness

 

 

Story Origin: China The Lost Horse

Long ago in a village in northern China, there lived a man who owned a magnificent horse. So beautiful was this horse that people came from miles around just to admire it. They told him he was blessed to own such a horse.

"Perhaps," he said. "But what seems like a blessing may be a curse."

One day, the horse ran off. It was gone. People came to say how sorry they were for his bad luck.

"Perhaps," he said. "But what seems like a curse may be a blessing."

A few weeks later, the horse returned. It was not alone. It was followed by twenty-one wild horses. By the law of the land, they became his property. He was rich with horses.

His neighbors came to congratulate him on his good fortune. "Truly," they said, "you have been blessed."

"Perhaps. But what seems like a blessing may be a curse."

Shortly after that his son--his only son--tried to ride one of the wild horses. He was thrown from it and broke his leg. The man's neighbors came to say how sorry they were. Surely, he had been cursed. "Perhaps," he said. "But what seems like a curse may be a blessing."

A week later, the king came through that village, drafting every able-bodied young man for a war against the people of the north. It was a horrible war. Everyone who went from that village was killed. Only that man's son survived, because of his broken leg.

To this day, in that village, they say, "What seems like a blessing may be a curse. What seems like a curse may be a blessing."




Chapter One The Lost Horse

Just how I came to be a storyteller is a story in itself, a tale of curses turned to blessings. I certainly wasn't born into the art, though I've met many who were. In a pub at the southernmost tip of Ireland I heard a genuine seanachie, who sang the ancient ballads with such resonance that you could hear the ghosts of his ancestors singing the chorus. In the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem I came to know a Hassidic maggid who could trace his lineage back to Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav, the great eighteenth-century mystic teller of tales. And once, on the north shore of Oahu, in Hawaii, I shared the stage with a woman who had been chosen as treasurer of five thousand years' worth of her ancestors' stories. Me, I had no such credentials, and it always left me feeling a little embarrassed among other storytellers. I had grown up in the least magical place on earth, the suburbs of the suburbs to the east of Los Angeles. Where my family lived there were no movie stars, no beaches--no water of any sort, for that matter. In fact, there was no geography at all, as far as we could tell; though we were told of purple mountains to the north, we could not see them through the smog.

Excerpted from The Beggar King and The Secret of Happiness.  Copyright © 2003 by Joel Ben Izzy. Reprinted with the permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Barkskins
    Barkskins
    by Annie Proulx
    Barkskins, by Annie Proulx, is not a book to read quickly. After a month of slow reading, I ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Marriage of Opposites
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's latest work, The Marriage of Opposites, is a historical fiction novel focusing on ...
  • Book Jacket: Miss Jane
    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson
    National Book Award Finalist Brad Watson returns with an intimate novel about one woman's journey to...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Miss Jane
    by Brad Watson

    "Starred Review. Sensitive, beautifully precise prose. Highly recommended." - PW

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Since She Went Away
    by David Bell

    A chilling novel of guilt, regret, and a past which refuses to die...

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Fair Fight
by Anna Freeman

A page-turning novel set in the world of 18th century female pugilists.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!