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From the Hilltop

Toni Jensen

Publication Year: 2010

For the characters we meet in Toni Jensen’s stories, the past is very much the present. Theirs are American Indian lives off the reservation, lives lived beyond the usual boundaries set for American Indian characters: migratory, often overlooked, yet carrying tradition with them into a future of difference and possibility. Drawing on American Indian oral traditions and her own Métis upbringing, Jensen tells stories that mix many lives and voices to offer fleeting perspectives on a world that reconfigures the tragedy and disconnection often found in narratives of American Indian life. A brother falls off the roof of an abandoned hotel, a young bride tries to connect with a family she’s never met, and an adopted teenage girl seeks acceptance where she is viewed as an outsider. The reader also encounters a kidnapped nephew, strangers in a hotel, and even a stray dog: these are the souls that populate Jensen’s stories, finding tentative connections with the past, the future, one another, and finally us.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. ix-x

For their faith, support, and hard work on this manuscript: my agent Kate Garrick, the series editors Gerald Vizenor and Diane Glancy, and acquisitions editor Elisabeth Chretien. For its financial support: the Texas Tech University Graduate College, which gave me a Summer Dissertation Research ...

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pp. 1-10

The redhead in the poodle skirt grabbed me up from where I hid between two giant palm fronds, dragged me to the stage, told me I was the rockabilly Indian, here to save them all. I told her I wasn’t him, was just myself. That there would be no saving, that the band wasn’t that bad, anyway. ...

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pp. 11-26

The man with the achy-breaky hair has a gun tucked in the side of his short shorts, is standing close to the young, blond policeman, who rides his horse like he’s from the city. It’s the Minnesota State Fair, and everyone is here to see the dairy princesses. I am here to see everyone seeing them. ...

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Learning How to Drown

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pp. 27-44

I was in Raider’s doghouse, my knees up under my chin. The baggy ass and cuffs of my pants soaked up water from this last monsoon rain, so when I stood up, it was going to look like I’d wet myself. I’d been brushing up against dog hair and dirt, too, me and the pants soaking up old Bassett hound smell, ...

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pp. 45-54

The day after the third baby was born dead, the dog appeared at the end of the lane. I was sitting under the sycamore, had been there since just before sunrise. I was facing the canyon, not really looking at it, not really looking. He was as tall as a pony, with fur the color of sand. Shepherd mixed with something ...

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At the Powwow Hotel

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pp. 55-68

When the cornfi eld arrived, I was standing in our hotel’s kitchen, starting Lester’s birthday cake. It was raining outside, foggy, too, for the sixth day in a row, and there was flour all over my blue jeans. I was trying to figure out what the book meant by sift. Lester had been outside by the canyon all morning, ...

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From the Hilltop

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pp. 69-84

If the hotel roof had been any hotter, if it had been any higher, if I had fallen, too, or instead; if Bean had officially died, if we had been drinking less or more, if there had been more than one girl there, if there had been fewer than us four guys, if we had all listened to Jeffrey, who is a biology professor now, ...

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pp. 85-92

For a third grade teacher, Ben told her, you sure do cuss a lot. His hand shook as he said it, making the chalk against the board wiggle. He wanted to drop the chalk again — he liked the way it felt when it slipped between his fingers, the way the wall felt cool against the top of his head when he bent to pick up the ...

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Killing Elvis

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pp. 93-114

Ditches wide and dark all around, fog thick enough for a hundred spoons, and my friend Jeffrey watches a blackbird who is not watching him back. Technically, Jeffrey is not my friend, is instead my husband, and the bird, though it is black, may not be a blackbird. Jeffrey is the one who knows about ...

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Sight and Other Hazards

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pp. 115-128

Mrs. Roubideaux from Apartment 212 knocked on the window, her fingers curved and yellowed like tusks, the hairs above her knuckles coarse and white and starting to curl. Her head was bent forward, and I swear, even through the glass, I heard her breath coming in snorts. Look at that, I thought, she’s getting ...

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pp. 129-146

Clarissa lay on her back, the box spring’s cold metal inches from her nose, the rough weave of the St. David’s Hotel carpet itching the backs of her knees. She clutched the roll of duct tape up to her chest, pressed her fingers around the loose, sticky corner and released. There was a small, sucking ...

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Looking for Boll Weevil

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pp. 147-158

At six in the morning, forty miles south of the Twin Cities, I jerked awake in the cold and dark of the bus our school group was sharing with a bunch of touring senior citizens. I was a long way from home, and the air felt different than West Texas air. It was thicker, more humid, and it smelled different, too, like pine trees, maybe, even through the mix of teenager and ...

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Song or Something Like It

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pp. 159-179

Christmas Eve, two in the afternoon, three hours to go till church, when my brother Paul pulls out a snack-sized Ziploc of cocaine and a pen cap, the end removed. He spills it out onto the table between a tower of Bud Light cans and a plastic Christmas village, complete with skating rink. Our mother ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780803228344
E-ISBN-10: 0803228341
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803226340
Print-ISBN-10: 0803226349

Page Count: 190
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Indians -- Mixed descent -- Fiction.
  • Métis -- Fiction.
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