Zephyr 98 Archive

Response to: The Hearts of Horses, by Molly Gloss

Posted on: May 27, 2009

I’m not much of a Western lit reader (maybe one ever few years), but my mother’s family is from E. Oregon (Baker, Pondosa, La Grande, Pendleton), with many surviving friends who are ranchers, farmers, or townspeople. My maternal grandmother left home at 17 in the late 1920’s and worked for three years gentling horses using techniques similar to those in Hearts of Horses. I’ve spent many years in many seasons on vacation (from W. Oregon) tromping, driving, fishing, and hunting in the land around Elwha county, and buried my grandfather on a butte in Union county. I’ve read Gloss’s other novels (with relish, hearty chutney-style) and so I bought this book–“for my mother.” Who finished it in a few days, then shoved it back at me and said, you need to read it. And, now that I’m done, I can’t think of when I’ve been so rewarded by a book as I have with this slow story (slow like honey dripping, not slow like water set to boil) about people and community and hearts and the land. And horses. Maybe my background makes me a perfect target audience for this book–you could say that I loved the book because the people and land resonated with my experiences and those of my family, but I would not have loved it less otherwise, and hated to see it end. It could have been longer–twice as long–and I would have been doubly satisfied. I read much of it on the commuter train to work every day and there were parts that made me turn to the window away from other passengers–a difficult situation for a grown man on public transport. I also laughed out loud in places. If you buy, borrow, or steal this book, you’ll have a true story in your hands–I’ll let you work out the parts that are true, but it’s very likely that your heart will inform your head.

(Yep, that’s it, no plot rehash, just a direct response to the novel. You can find plenty of details at Amazon, Powell’s, and other bookseller sites.)

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4 Responses to "Response to: The Hearts of Horses, by Molly Gloss"

That book has been on my list for a long time, particularly for two horse-mad family members but also because I love Molly Gloss’s work and wish there were more of it. Thanks for reminding me about it, I will surely get it and read it (and send copies to people).

Didn’t The Hearts of Horses come out a while ago? I wonder what she’s writing now…

I saw her at a recent reading at PSU and threatened to tell stories to the tabloids until she confessed. It turns out that her next story (in progress) is about a group of “coyote ticklers” working out of Austin in the 1930’s. It’s called “The Howls of Jorge.” (Seriously, she says she’s writing something, and that she’s a slow writer, and that it has a horse in it. Then she got all taciturn and refused to say more, even with a 20 on the table between us.)

Now I have to say some nice but honest things in another post about your new story collection, some of which I’ve already said in correspondence, none of it hyperbole (not because I’m obligated, but because I should–and put them on Amazon and Powells.com, too). I’m honored to know fine writers, and that includes Mr. Eadwacer below, even if he only writes sharp stuff for academics and in correspondence.

I’ll have to get this for our outgoing Dept Chair. She’s a horse owner, and her family ranches over in Montana. Don’t tell her. I want it to be a surprise.

Hmm, I received this mail from her: Don’t tell Steven that I know about the book. He frowns so much, as it is.

So you both will need to pretend. It’s the civilized thing to do.

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