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Molly Gloss shares love of books at upcoming forum

Author Molly Gloss will bring a love of libraries, horses and books with her when the Ledding Library Cultural Forum begins its fall season on Thursday, Sept. 5.

She will read a short piece from a new novel and talk about writing from 7 to 8 p.m. at the library’s Pond House, 2215 S.E. Harrison St., Milwaukie.

She says yes to almost any event at a library, Gloss said, because she grew up using them and they have major importance in her life.

For her presentation, Gloss will read from an as-yet unnamed novel, set to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the fall 2014.

“This is a novel, set mostly in 1938-39, about an Oregon ranch kid, 19 years old, who goes down to Hollywood to work as a stunt rider in the B-Westerns. I’ll be talking about the research for that book and the long, five-year struggle to finish it,” Gloss said.

Gloss has made use of a Western setting in some of her other novels, including “The Jump-Off Creek,” published in 1989, and “The Hearts of Horses,” published in 2007.

For “The Hearts of Horses,” she studied techniques for taming and training horses and learned to ride. This summer she acquired a new horse named Koko, an Icelandic mare.

Journey to writer

Gloss is a fourth-generation Oregonian who has lived in and around Portland all of her life. She graduated from Portland State University, became a teacher, then a clerk, a wife and a mother.

A lover of Western history, in 1980 she entered a writing competition and finished her first novel which she describes as “perfectly awful,” but a great learning experience.

The next year Gloss met Ursula Le Guin who became her mentor and friend.

She was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for American Fiction for her novel “The Jump-Off Creek,” and has won a number of awards, including the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award and the Oregon Book Award.

In 1996, Gloss was a recipient of a Whiting Writers Award. “The Dazzle of Day” was named a New York Times Notable Book and was awarded the PEN Center West Fiction Prize.

‘Real books won’t die

Obviously, books, “real books,” are important to Gloss, who said, “Real books matter because they’re not ephemeral, they have a physical beauty and heft in the world, they can be loaned or given away, written in, they smell good, the pages feel good to your hand, you can browse through them, jump back and forth in them, and use them to hold down loose notepaper.” 

She is more used to being asked if “real books” can survive, and Gloss answers that there will always be real books, as opposed to ebooks.

“The growth of e-readers and ebooks, which was steep at first, has leveled off, as we all are realizing there is plenty of room in the world, and a need for both real books and ebooks,” Gloss said.

“None of us have to be on one side or the other. We don’t have to be either a techie or a Luddite. We can own an e-reader loaded with hundreds of books and also bookshelves groaning with hundreds of physical books. There are good reasons to have both, and good uses for each of them.”



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