Jump-off Creek

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Pen / Faulkner Award Finalist and winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award

William Kittredge called The Jump-Off Creek "a truly beautiful piece of American storytelling." The struggles of a widowed homesteader braving the austere and unsparing Blue Mountains contain "enough valor to make an ordinary life seem heroic" (Los Angeles Times). Told with Molly Gloss's unsentimental reserve, this novel is an inspiring reminder of a rich and ...

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Overview

Pen / Faulkner Award Finalist and winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award

William Kittredge called The Jump-Off Creek "a truly beautiful piece of American storytelling." The struggles of a widowed homesteader braving the austere and unsparing Blue Mountains contain "enough valor to make an ordinary life seem heroic" (Los Angeles Times). Told with Molly Gloss's unsentimental reserve, this novel is an inspiring reminder of a rich and uniquely American past.

The profoundly human story of one woman's struggle to homestead in the unforgiving Blue Mountains of the 1890s. Vivid in its descriptions friendship and loss, of daily struggle and attainment, this book offers its readers an unforgettable portrait of a pioneer woman and her ability to be endure.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Set in the high mountain country of Oregon during the 1890s, this first novel is a quiet, unsparing portrait of pioneer life, recounted simply and without romanticism. Drawing on pioneer diaries, journals and hand-me-down stories of her own ancestors, Gloss displays a deep awareness not only of the brutal hardships of frontier life, but also of the moral codes and emotional attachments of the people who settled there. Drawn by the freedom the West offers, Lydia Sanderson leaves a disappointing marriage in Pennsylvania and comes to Jump-Off Creek to homestead a place of her own. Tim Whiteaker, ``gone cowboying'' since the age of 13, and his partner, the half-Indian Blue Odell, raise cattle nearby. Three wolfers, squatting on abandoned property near Jump-Off Creek and walking the thin edge of the law in order to earn a marginal living, provide much of the tension within the novel. The author's intimate understanding of the harsh physical conditions and of the rituals and practices of frontier life (there are long descriptions of how to brand cattle and how to mend a roof) sometimes overshadows a deeper delineation of character. However, most of the scenes are handled with a restraint that communicates the characters' endemic loneliness, and the dialogue, though spare, is rich enough to convey their emotional conflicts. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Not a standard ``Western,'' but a novel of the West notable for its accurate portrayal of life on a homestead and for the quality of writing that will make readers linger. At the height of the Depression of 1895 Lydia Sanderson, freed by the death of her husband, travels to Oregon where she homesteads on a mountain, living in a wretched hovel on land not fit to grow even a vegetable garden. Her companions are two mules, two goats, and hard work. Lydia's neighbors are few and far but bound together by a common struggle to survive. Their life is one of terse converse, kindness, and quick response to one another's needs. A rare treat of a first novel.-- Sister Avila, Acad. of Holy Angels, Minneapolis
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780896219847
  • Publisher: Macmillan Library Reference
  • Publication date: 1/1/1990
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 290

Meet the Author

Molly Gloss is the author of The Dazzle of the Day, a New York Times Notable Book, and The Jump-Off Creek, a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. She teaches writing and literature of the American West at Portland State University and lives in Portland, Oregon. Wild Life, her third novel, is the winner of the James Tiptree Award for literary fantasy.
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