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Reviews 367 later, a descendant of that community has told the story from the point ofview of a young woman growing up a Doukhobor in the Kootenay region of British Columbia. Vi Plotnikoffs Head Cook at Weddings and Funerals is a collection of stories about Ana, a girl attempting to live within two cultures. Many of the stories incorporate materials from Doukhobor history including the “burning ofarms” in 1895 and the great migration of 1899, but what will engage most readers is watching Ana, a young woman in the late 1950s, negotiating that difficult territory where Russian and North American cultures touch each other and sometimes collide. There are familiar stories of the kind where Doukhobor children in Canada are discouraged from speaking their first language, where they feel ashamed of the borsch and sunflower seeds they enjoy, where they are teased, sometimes tormented, by their classmates: “When are you going to bomb the school, Douk?” There are stories where young people who fall in love outside the closely-knit community must forsake personal happiness and where some choose to leave their families and their traditions behind. But there are also sunny, happy stories where community life is its own reward and source of certain happiness. These are remembered sequences from the author’s per­ sonal and cultural history; they are recounted without bitterness and with the artistic simplicity and authenticity that in Canada we associate with the stories of Emily Carr. In this time when we are acutely conscious of ethnicity and race, these stories constitute an original and important chapter in the fiction of minority cultures in North America. Plotnikoff is the first to bring the muse to her country, for as Myler Wilkinson in the introduction to the volume states: “No one else of her generation has written a fictional work of this artistic caliber, which grows out of Doukhobor experience yet reaches beyond it with the potential to touch people ofall backgrounds.”This isan important and fine first collection. DAVID STOUCK Simon Fraser University Crossing Wyoming. By David Romtvedt. (Fredonia, New York: White Pine, 1992. 263 pages, $12.00.) With the help of the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Arts Council, David Romtvedt has gathered his poetic strengths to create an intriguing “fictional work of actual events.” Crossing’s protagonist, Eduardo Galeano, political activist, poet-philosopher, and magician is a time-traveling, on-the-scene journalist at a mishmash of events that always loop back to Wyo­ ming (the “northernmost province of Latin America”). Galeano witnesses the 368 Western American Literature arrival of horses, walks beside Black Elk at Greasy Grass, looks in on Amatchi (grandmother) in 1920 as she milks her cows and mends her son’s shirt, and eavesdrops on a playfully sarcastic chat between Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Spalding as they plan their honeymoons (“‘Let’s do something really new and grand,’Mrs. Whitman smiles, ‘Let’sbe the first white women to cross Wyoming and the Rocky Mountains to reach the Pacific Coast.’”). Galeano watches 1,175 elk die at the National Elk Refuge in 1928, and in one of his resurrections, is discovered by archeologists in 2075 and named the Sunset Man, a pure specimen of the late twentieth century. Crossingis not a novel and it is not essays. It is a collection of imaginative, poignant, and entertaining vignettes that encourage the reader to listen to history, to listen so well that those people long gone take on life once again and offer, once again, what we may have forgotten to learn the first time around. If the pain of reading the book is in its depiction ofa “world that for all but a very few . . . has been an eternal nightmare,”the book’s true power lies in its persistent spirit of hope. ONA SIPORIN Utah State University How I Learned. By Gloria Frym. (Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1992. 131 pages, $11.85.) These stories and my reaction to them are like an exhibition of Duane Hanson’s super realistic sculpture. In the museum gallery I thought, “People aren’t this bored, I’m not sure I like this, why doesn’t he try something else?” Later...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 367-368
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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