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HUMANITIES S89 we're waiting for a volume with more depth, this at least provides a start, eh? (ANNE LANCASHIRE) Brian Maracle. Back on the Rez: Finding the Way Home Viking 1996. xao6. $28.99 Born on the Six Rivers Grand Nation Territory, the author left with his parents when he was five years old. Thirty years later, in 1993, he elects to return, even though he risks permanent separation from his wife who likewise decides to go back to her (different) place of origin. In the interim, he has earned two college degrees, been successful both as a Native administrator and as a journalist (print and radio), and become, by all appearances, a wholly urban being at home in a multicultural cosmopolitan world. Anyone who still doubts the relevance of roots in this rootless world, that core of identity politics that is too often disdained, should read this finely crafted book. There is, I suppose, a double dimension to what Maracle does. Anyone who is a city person, regardless of their racial or etlmic origin, can try on the rural life-style. Indeed, some of the bestparts of this book are whimsical accounts of what it's like to heat with wood, to have to do your own plumbing, and to commute just to get a daily paper. A cottager's holiday, sure, but a real year-round life? Maracle, uncertain about himself ahead of time, finds he is up to it, and his adaptability and general good cheer are manifest. He is able to hunker down with his word-processor- the Iroquois word for which, kawennarha, literally means 'a man-made hanging word thing' - presumably working on this manuscript, with drifting snow coming in through the cracks in the walls. He never whines about his lot, seems never to have despaired. Perhaps that is because of what else sustains him: the refurbishing of his aboriginal roots. He is returning to the land not just as rural real estate with its accompanying way of life but because the connection with the land is part of his very being as a Native person. To those who would counter that the reserves are a caricature of what Indian lands once meant, Maracle replies that their very slightness is what makes his attachment, and those of other aboriginal persons, to them so 'passionate and intense.' Maracle carmot avoid being caught up in the deep and long-running dispute on his reserve between the traditional government of the Iroquois Confederacy and the chief-and-band-council regime imposed by the Indian Act. Indeed, one senses that the journalist in him welcomes the consequent political drama. His heart lies from the outset with the traditional government and, while he comes to see the pluses and minuses on both sides, that is where he remains at the end, though with a number of ingenious ideas about how the two might be reconciled. 590 LETTERS IN CANADA 1997 But I am in danger of making this book sound earnest when it mostly is a marvellous read on what has come, and might still come, out of a meeting of two cultures: on why May 24th is 'Bread and Cheese Day'; on how white people stole lacrosse only to let it die; on how, the white man having gone Prohibitionist on the Indians' sacred tobacco, Indian reserves could become places where anyone cquld come and smoke to their heart's content. Maracle.had committed himself to come back for one year. At the end of the year, and the end of this book, he has decided to stay. He is home again, among his original extended family. It's an absorbing story with a happy ending; no one should ask for more. (MEL WATKINS) Karlene Faith. Madonna: Bawdy and Soul University of Toronto Press. xv, 218. $45.00 cloth, $19.95 paper When writing about Madonna - risibly dubbed the 'metatextual girl' by David Tetzlaff- one is compelled to cite her work, press writers, unofficial biographers,. academics, fans, and haters. One tends not to strike a theoretical and interpretive pose before wending a way among contradictions and amorphous personae. Karlene Faith's scrutiny of Madonna's body andbawdy...


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