aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Molly Gloss' Hearts of Horses

I just finished reading The Hearts of Horses, which in its beautiful spareness and cover image reminded me of A Sudden Country.

The voice is fascinating. The story is of a young woman, Martha Lessen [that name has to be on purpose, although it doesn't really seem Molly Gloss' style], who just before World War I tries to make a living taming horses. It's third person, focused on Martha, although it's also omniscent, willing to spend time with other people that Martha meets. Perhap it is the voice of Gloss herself, since it is seems to be looking back on events, with passages like these" Of course nobody in those days would have guessed it wuold be 1945..."

I've met Molly Gloss a couple of times, and a few years back she told me she wasn't writing at all. Her husband had died and she had lost her heart. She had been writing a book when he died, and I believe it was this one. There is a character who dies of cancer in the book, a terrible and prolonged death, and as I guessed while reading it, his death in some ways mirrors her husband's. [Full disclosure: link was working this morning, hope it works again.] In the book, it says, "It was a glimpse of the hard truth that loving someone meant living every moment with the knowledge that he might die - die in a horrible way - and leave you alone."

She says in the interview, "I wanted to write about somebody who was dying of cancer, a family with a wife and a husband and a child, because I wanted a place in that book for me to write about my personal experience. In part that was because when my husband died of cancer in 2000, I actually felt fairly betrayed by the literature and the films that I had been exposed to over my lifetime that dealt with death and especially death by cancer.

"I don’t think I ever read in anybody’s novel or had ever seen in anybody’s film an honest portrayal of what that experience might be like. What you see are these sanitized and sweet moments with the person on their death bed, completely coherent and clean, saying their last loving words to their beloved as they’re clasping hands. And then the moment of death is when the hand loosens and falls away onto the clean bed sheet.

"That was so not my experience--it was not anywhere even remotely like my experience--that I really felt betrayed by it. I wanted to write honestly about what was like, at least what that was like for me. I think that I came close. I was not able to do what I initially wanted to do, because I realized there were things I couldn’t write about because they would have been a betrayal of my husband. A betrayal of his privacy. It was not as honest a portrait as I initially thought I would do, but it’s as honest as I can make it and still have it out there for people to see."

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