Hold your horses; BookPeople welcomes author whose work features the Wild West

BY HOLLY LANE | Evergreen literary reporter

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This isn’t their first rodeo, but locals never know exactly what to expect when an author visits the Palouse.

BookPeople of Moscow will welcome Molly Gloss at 7:30 p.m. today to read from her latest book “Falling from Horses,” and to talk and answer questions about her book.

“It’s always fun to hear an author read their work because then their voice kind of stays with me when I continue reading,” said Jamaica Ritcher, marketing and events coordinator at BookPeople.

Ritcher said the authors are always eager to answer questions and will usually speak pretty honestly.

“Falling from Horses” is about a young 19-year-old man, who leaves his home ranch for Hollywood in hopes of becoming a stunt rider for western movies.

“Her characters are always really strong and interesting and from the West,” said Carol Spurling, manager and co-owner of BookPeople.

Gloss, a fourth-generation Oregonian, has a real familiarity with horses, Spurling said.

“I think one thing the novel is doing is showing the actual danger and violence and dignity of real ranching,” said Gloss, novelist and horse owner.

The descriptions of the realistic ranch life contrast the false, phony, and fake dangers of the movie West, she said.

Gloss said her books explore the way the cowboy mythology has influenced American culture.

In “Falling from Horses” the main character meets actors who play cowboys in films and experiences a whole subculture of Western movies, Spurling said.

Gloss said she hopes her work will attract anyone, but people interested in the West or the history of movies may be particularly interested in this novel.

The book gives a look at the early days of Hollywood, as well as a good look at the ranch where the main character grew up, Ritcher said.

Gloss also said anyone who loves horses will enjoy the novel although the cruelty the animals experience in the book may be hard to read.

“I don’t pull punches on that,” she said.

As of yesterday, “Falling from Horses” has been announced as one of the 15 finalists for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award (PNBA).

Spurling said she is excited Gloss will be here and that her book is a finalist among the hundreds of books that are considered for the PNBA.

Compared to her most recent book, several of Gloss’ previous novels feature strong female characters in leading roles living in the West.

“I haven’t read too many novels that are set in the West that feature female characters that are so strong and independent,” Spurling said.

Gloss herself is also a very strong woman, Spurling said.

“She seems like the kind of no-nonsense woman that can totally take care of herself,” she said.

Spurling said she sees that personality in Gloss’ characters. Many of the books set in that time period are more romantic, and the women often need the men to get along. Gloss’s books aren’t necessarily like that, she said.

Gloss’s books are set in the past without that romantic view, and are more realistic and less sentimental, Spurling said.

Today’s visit will not be Gloss’ first to the area, where she said she some of her relatives live.

“My whole success is really dependent on independent bookstores like BookPeople,” said Gloss. “I’m very grateful to them for that.”

Gloss also owns her own horse, Koko, an 18-year-old Icelandic.

“She’s got an attitude and she’s got opinions,” Gloss said. “She’s the boss mare in our little herd.”