Thursday, February 4, 2016

Falling from Horses by Molly Gloss

Posted by Rebecca Brendel

Reviewed by: Becky Brendel

What I Read: Falling from Horses by Molly Gloss

Find It @YCLD: Here!

What It's About: 19-year-old Bud Frazer moves to California after a family tragedy to try his hand at stunt riding in the heyday of Western movies. But although he knows a lot about horses, he has no experience with the less glamorous world behind the cameras, where spurs are made of rubber but plenty of dangers await both horses and the men atop them. Falling from Horses is the One Book Yuma selection for 2016; author Molly Gloss will be visiting Yuma on March 3 & 4.

What I Thought: Falling from Horses is a novel that reads like a memoir. Most of the book is told from Bud's point of view, and his first-person narration feels very natural; as you read, you get the sense that you're sitting there alongside a much older Bud, listening to him telling his life's story. (Listen to the author read an excerpt of Bud's narration here!) Other portions of the book are told in third person and detail the lives of Bud's parents, to better provide context for some of the events Bud talks about in his story, but the switch between the two voices never seems jarring.

The story, entertaining in its own right as both a coming of age and a "fish out of water" story, also provides a look "behind the scenes" during an era before moviemakers had to guarantee that no animals were harmed in the making of their films. Bud's adventures and misadventures in the film industry are sometimes amusing and sometimes extremely difficult to read - directors and handlers alike could be hard on horses (and actors), with plenty of animals dying in pursuit of the perfect shot.

It's this cruelty (among other things) that drives Bud away from the movies, but during his time in California he also fosters a friendship with an aspiring screenwriter, Lily, who teaches him film theory and thinks critically about the pictures that Bud, until he came to work for them, had taken for granted. Falling from Horses is therefore both an expose of and love letter to the old-time film industry, for those interested in the history of movies, horrors and all.

It's also a lovely bildungsroman, so please don't hesitate: check out a copy of Falling from Horses at your local library and come see Molly Gloss when she visits Yuma next month!