- N. Scott Momaday: Remembering Ancestors, Earth and Traditions: An Annotated Bio-bibliography, and: The Journey of Tai-me, and: In the Bear’s House, and: Again the Far Morning: New and Selected Poems
Shortly after being offered the opportunity to review for readers of Studies in American Indian Literatures a disparate collection of books, one about and three by N. Scott Momaday, and very shortly after accepting the offer, I asked myself the proverbial, yet still troubling, [End Page 126] question, “Now what have I gotten myself into?” Since a review provides summary and evaluation of a work under consideration, I immediately struggled with a way to bring order to a review of four works clumped together for the present purpose, recognizing that each of these wonderful works was deserving of its own specific and separate scrutiny. I say “clumped together” because very quickly after accepting the offer, I realized that the only “glue” I had to bind the works together was Momaday; he is central to them all, of course. But I wondered how I would synthesize the works in question, keeping to my assigned word limit. The works run a daunting gamut—from old (albeit re-released) to new, fiction to nonfiction, mixed genre to poetry, general use to reference. And then it dawned on me. What I reacted to at first as a disconnected grouping is actually a collection that accurately reflects Momaday’s range of styles and purposes, and in so doing it is a collection accurately reflective of Momaday himself: a Kiowa (one raised among the Navajos and Pueblo peoples), an academic (Emily Dickinson scholar, expert on Billy the Kid), a teacher (of high school and college students), Gourd Dancer, Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist, an essayist, poet, painter, and narrator. This collection properly represents Momaday—a defiant artist, resisting categorization.
The crucial issues surrounding Phyllis S. Morgan’s annotated bio-bibliography N. Scott Momaday: Remembering Ancestors, Earth, and Traditions are whether it accurately and fittingly presents the scope of Momaday’s work and represents the range of critical responses to and interpretations of it. Morgan describes her goal as creating a “tribute to [Momaday] and a celebration of the works from his pen and paintbrush” (xiv). Given Momaday’s fifty-plus years of production, containing such a tribute and celebration within the covers of a single volume would be tough. To do so, Morgan would have to consider the amount of Momaday’s work, the variety of genres, the varied modes of expression (including his work as a narrator for films and tv productions), and the range of publications in which his works appear, in addition to the amount and range of critical scholarship that has been produced about Momaday’s work and his life. Successfully rendered, such a volume would be indispensable [End Page 127] to scholars, teachers, and others in need of specific information on Momaday and his art. It would guide scholars, teachers, and students to information necessary to begin or to sustain inquiry, lessons, and projects on anything Momaday.
In all this Morgan’s effort is successful. It is a volume well put together. The book itself is beautiful. From its textured endpapers to the quality of its paper, from its clear fonts to its clean layout, the publisher and printer attended to the kinds of aesthetic details with which an artist like Momaday would be concerned. The work is a fitting tribute to Momaday, described by Morgan in the preface as an artist who has “achieved much, fulfilling the vision of the elder storyteller...