By Faye Herold
“Like many origin myths, the idea that everything began in 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue is a fiction.” David Treuer, author, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present (2019)
If you want to feel that you are reading a truly important book, here is your chance. David Treuer, Minnesota Ojibwe, takes the reader through the unhappy history of U.S. Government-Indian relations since Wounded Knee and, with the slowly building successes of Native peoples, to today.
Treuer visited tribes in all parts of the country and narrates stories of real people, like David Schildt, Blackfeet tribe, rodeo rider in the '70s, now citified in California, who says, “I’m a relocated Indian. I see myself as a classic example of what the government wants. The government wants you separated from your family, your home, your kids, your spiritual belief system, and they got you in the city, in white America.” But for Treuer, cities have brought different tribes together, strengthened their spirit, their pride in being Native, and given them new stories with better endings.
Not always an easy read, Heartbeat brings us up-to-date on an important part of our national history, smoothly told. Find this in our Library at “Native American Issues,” 3rd floor.
P.S. For a bonus read, look for Quiet Until the Thaw by Alexandra Fuller, a recent novel of two unlikely cousins, You Choose Watson and Rick Overlooking Horse, on and off the rez, the Lakota Oglala Sioux Nation, South Dakota.
British intelligence agents now known as “slow horses”) will save a Pakistan teenager from an Internet beheading. Then you’ll find it back in the New Arrivals area (but if not, look in Mystery/Spy/Thriller).
From there I’ll move to South Carolina in the 1950s to meet Bone, a young girl with a terrible story to tell. Bastard out of Carolina was Dorothy Allison’s first book and a finalist for the 1992 National Book Award. Not sure why it’s taken me this long to read it—I was on a waitlist to take a week-long writing class from Allison a few years ago—but I’m eager now. Give me a few weeks, and it’ll be back on the shelves, too, in the Fiction section.
The next four books Ed or I snagged from the Book Cart on the third floor outside the Library.
In The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields, I’ll spend some time in turn-of-the-century Paris, England, and New England listening in on the marital woes of novelist Edith Wharton as told to her governess and lifelong best friend. All the characters in this book about Edith’s world and what happens to her come from her real life; only her inner world—her feelings and thoughts—are the imaginings of author Jennie Fields.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize, is next up. I’ll journey with three generation of the Stephanides family from a village overlooking Mount Olympus to Prohibition-era Detroit to the comforts of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. The book promises family secrets and, with their telling, juicy revelations. Yummy, yummy!
Hey, now I’m going to Oz! In Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, writer Gregory Maguire posits what terrible things must’ve befallen Elphaba, the young girl who grew into Dorothy’s infamous tormentor. Thinking from a psychological perspective, “I’ll get you, my pretty” has a whole different meaning. I hope I do, indeed, “get her” when I’m finished. And yes, this is the book from which the wildly popular Broadway show was born.
Finally, I’ll arrive in Tahiti circa 1800 when I pick up Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things. Protagonist Alma Whittaker takes from her father his love of the botanical world. Bucking the era, it’s her obsession to become a scientist like him. Yet what remains to be seen is whether love of the 19th-century variety will complicate or complete her existence.
The slow horses are calling me and I’m really worried about that Pakistani youth…but before I go: what’s on your reading pile?
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