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358 WesternAmerican Literature MacKichan shareswith her readers her recent introduction to the Sandhills and its people. Ross, on the other hand, writes about his personal experience of growing up in the “kingdom of grass.” He tells about the people he grew up with: his family, his friends, and some odd characters from this group. He left home for school, and when he later returned, he appeared to find a conflict between the scholar ofwords, the poet, and the young boy of the Sandhills. Ross creates his part of the book in a series of individual essays. He uses simple events and images to create stories illustrating his life, like the chapter “Fence,” in which the reader learns a bit about fences between glimpses into Ross’s past. While the rest of the writing is clearly about Ross, the chapter titled “The Lost City” seems lost itself. This chapter contains brief images of an anonymous writer living alone in the Sandhills. Ross flashes back and forth between the isolated writer and the activities happening in town. The chapter at first seemsjarring and leaves this reader wondering if the solitary writer repre­ sents Ross and his sense of displacement after returning home. The combination of photographs and words, along with the contrast be­ tween Ross’spoint ofview and MacKichan’s, provides a multifaceted look at the Sandhills and a complete sense of place. BARBARA LANGDON Lincoln, Nebraska Bloodlines: Odyssey of a Native Daughter. ByJanet Campbell Hale. (New York: Random House, 1993. 187 pages, $18.50.) Those who expect to read inJanet Campbell Hale’snew collection ofessays the journey of an Indian woman who valorizes her family will come away from this astonishingly candid book with disappointment. Instead Hale, a member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe, a writer of note (TheJailing of Cecelia Capture), and a university professor of writing, recollects here an anguished childhood and adolescence lived in poverty, a life of searching for roots among both Indian and white relatives in Washington State, Oregon and Idaho, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Montana, and California. In telling the compelling narrative ofwhat Hale terms her “dysfunctional family,”she illuminates the underside of contemporary American Indian transient, urban life. Hale is nothing less than a gifted storyteller, and the stories she gives us here are those of a woman deeply at odds with both her white and Indian heritage. “One peculiar thing about us is my mother looks white (though she is actually a mixed-blood Indian) while I, like my father and older sisters, look Indian,” Hale writes in the autobiographical essay “Daughter of Winter.” She tells us of astonishing verbal abuse from her mother and sisters, even as a very young child, and she finds no resolution in the complex recollections of her family, particularly ofher mother, who dominates the firstessay, almost one half Reviews 359 of the book. In her essay ‘Transitions,” Hale chronicles her life as a young, unmarried woman with a child living in San Francisco, getting an education with pledges of financial help from the Coeur d’Alene Reservation; although never fulfilled, the tribe gave Hale the hope to “hang on” in her struggle to support herself and her child as a welfare mother in San Francisco until she finally won scholarships and stipends from Berkeley on her own. Janet Campbell Hale gives her readers a rich and well-written memoir, a backward glance over obstacles—mainly imposed by her mother’s psychologi­ cal abuse and her father’s alcoholism—that would have stunted most daugh­ ters. More, she explores the tortuous journey she has taken as an interracial daughter and writer in the essays “Return to Bear Paw” and “Dust to Dust.” In the last essay she questions whether or not she would have chosen to pass for white ifit had been possible. Hale comes to no simple conclusions; nor does she shrink from the hard education she received throughout her “transient child­ hood” of constant poverty and prejudice in a family that seems never to have valued her. Yet, in each unflinching essay Hale imbues her recollections with a stark beauty of detail that rivets and rewards the reader. ESTHER F. LANIGAN The College ofWilliam &f Mary Backtracking...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 358-359
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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