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The Jump-Off Creek Paperback – Aug 3 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (Aug. 3 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618565876
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618565870
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14 x 1.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,514,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
I loved "The Dazzle of Day" and now I love "The Jump-Off Creek". Molly Gloss is a wonderful writer. The images are evocative, the characters ring true, the plot is interesting and engrossing. My only criticism is the frequency with which she describes "smiles" (slow, deliberate, flat, purposefully, gently, etc.) -- it got a bit distracting. But that's a small criticism. Molly Gloss: write more, faster!
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By RuthAlice on March 24 2002
Format: Paperback
A woman homesteads by herself in eastern Oregon. There are the standard dangers, problems, terrors and tragedies. This is saved from being trite by the stoic and undaunted character of the woman. Gloss also avoids the usual romantic happily-ever-after with the man next door.
Gloss has used journals and diaries of women in the West in hopes to draw out some of the nontraditional women's roles in the West, "I hope their strong, honest voices can be heard in this book." Showing that gender roles weren't fixed as many choose to believe, we see Lydia doing hard, manual labor, and Tim cooking and doing the wash. Lydia, the heroine of the book, abandons typical women's roles in the very beginning when she picks up and moves West alone to start a new life. "I'd rather have my own house, sorry as it is, than the wedding ring of a man who couldn't be roused from sleeping when his own child was slipping out of me unborn."
Gloss attempts to break down the Western stereotypes for men. Tim and Blue are like real men we could meet if we were on the frontier, not larger than life heroes that commonly dominate Western myths. Unlike heroes admired for their independence, Tim and Blue are dependant on others and each other on the frontier . They become almost like children in their dependence on others, "He turned and looked at her, ducking his chin." Things don't come easily for them and they struggle like any human being would have, "Tim put the gun down in the mud and went, shaking, across the bloody wallow on his knees." Even being a cowboy is rejected in this book, "He said he'd seen years when a good cowboy couldn't by himself a job, but a good cook could pretty much always find work.
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Format: Paperback
Mrs. Lydia Sanderson had married and her husband had moved into her room at her father's house so that she could continue to run her father's farm and help nurse her sick father. After both her father and her husband die, she sells all her husband's possessions and buys a relinquishment claim in the Blue Mountains of Oregon, leaving her binding life behind: "The truth is. . . I'd rather have my own house, sorry as it is, than the wedding ring of a dead man who couldn't be roused from sleeping when his own child was slipping out of me unborn" (81).
This novel is the story of about the first year and a half of her homestead. She is an incredibly laconic person and the converstations seem to drag on because more is understood or thought than is spoken. She is an incredibly positive woman who faces homesteadings challenges without self-doubt or equivocating whether it is evicting the squatters from her home, chasing a bear that is stalking her goats, or spitting cedar shakes for a new roof. However, she always tries to be proper. A neighbor rides up when she is nailing poles into the chinks of her log cabin, and she comments, "I smiled an presented myself as ladylike as liable to be with a hammer in my hand and nails in my teeth!" (102). Lydia Sanderson's character is awe-inspiringly solid and by the end, she is willing to teach the male hero how to put up hay.
Unfortunately, the more traditional male physical conflict story of two ranchers, Blue Odell and Tim Whiteaker take over the narrative. Wolfers begin to shoot cattle to provide meat for their poisoned bait, and they set leg-hold traps that wound a bear so that it begins to prey on domesticated animals.
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Format: Paperback
An incredibly poignant novel that reads and feels as sharp and clear as a freezing cold running stream.
The author writes crisply, economically and precisely to reflect the times and circumstances of the lifestyle of Lydia Sanderson. Lydia is widowed and decides to purchase what remains of a forsaken homestead in the Blue Mountains. The challenges that she must face up to are great, being a woman, even greater, still. The work she must do is brutal, the weather a force to break men's souls, the physical labor more demanding than anything she knows. Yet she accepts this completely.
In brilliant detail the author portrays how this woman lived alone and prospered. It is a fascinating accounting of her lifestyle; the items she has in her possession, what she eats and how she transports herself and her animals. All of this is told conservatively as her journal recounts the challenges that unfold before her.
In contrast to her personal life, the reader is introduced to the folk that live nearest to her. These are strong and beautiful characters, tough and tender, strong and bending. In very difficult times, they came together and helped each other. Their spirit is reflected through the accounting of Lydia's story.
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