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Reviews 389 Truth and clarity in memoir are always problematic—motive is biased, memory precarious—but this memoir involved even further difficulties: young­ est sister Caroline eased it out between 1978 and 1980, when Jules Jr. was past eighty and dying of cancer; editorial revisions followed his death. Intended “to supplement, not contradict” Old Jules, it satisfied Jules Jr.’s desire “to give a more balanced view of the settler period” than sister Mari had provided. The book may thus seem merely a series of footnotes to Old Jules, of interest only to local historians and Sandoz scholars, but it has much to interest more general readers. There are many anecdotal details about frontier life— farming, trapping, raising dogs—and about growing up: testing limits (such as the relative merits of explosives), learning to manipulate homestead-era real estate, playing the role of young swain. Jules Jr.’s view that his parents “ruled us by competition” provides an interesting perspective on Sandoz sibling relations, and his attitudes towards Mari’s dismal marriage and divorce are revealing. Although it lacks the mythic resonance of Mari’s classic, this memoir provides additional hints to the emotional costs of frontier childhood. A poten­ tial key to young Jules’s life appears early: “Papa scarcely noticed me. It was Mari he favored, when he favored anyone.” Thus Jules Jr. is often crabbily resentful of Mari (she is “bossy” and “usually lost in a world of fantasy and make-believe”) and exasperated with his know-it-all father. Old Jules is pic­ tured as having little real knowledge of farming, and as characteristically volatile, mean-spirited, and sexist (recorded as saying “Males should not be curbed”) . About himself, Jules Jr. records a life full of fears: of animals, girls, water, “practically everything elss.” Emphasizing challenges, he records both what he managed to learn from practical experience and what he could not learn from his father. His escape from the home place at sixteen was a desperate release into autonomy, allowing him to achieve the successes which would clarify his existence. This memoir, however, suggests that Jules Jr.’s need to justify himself continued to the end. JOSEPH J. WYDEVEN Bellevue College Sisters of the Dream. By Mary Sojourner. (Flagstaff: Northland Publishing, 1989. 363 pages, $19.95.) This ambitious first novel takes place in the Grand Canyon country of northern Arizona. Focal character Liz Morrigan, 45-year old divorcee, ex-community counselor, and recent arrival to Flagstaff and the Southwest, lives in three worlds. Recalling her East Coast and earlier years, Liz cannot shake troublesome memories of failed relationships and, in particular, her last great love, the youthful Nick. Liz’s friends are Deena, former California golden girl with a 390 Western American Literature young daughter and a violent ex-husband; Hatt, elderly widow of a trading post owner and now confined to a nursing home; and Rose, hard-working Hopi wife and mother and one of Hatt’s nurses. Also, in extended and highly detailed dream sequences, Liz experiences 12th-century Hopi life and rituals through the eyes of Talasi, a perceptive young woman whose lifespan includes times of plenty followed by great want due to drought. Sojourner is much concerned with attention to detail. Whether describing Liz and her friends, Liz’s cats, the Painted Desert, nighttime driving across wastelands, or sleazy cowboy bars, Sojourner gets it right. The reader can and does take much pleasure from Sojourner’s descriptive powers. At other times, one is overwhelmed and frustrated. The minutiae-filled 12th-century Hopi scenes, for instance, while carefully researched and written, will prove tiresome for many. This is definitely not the popular fiction of Jean M. Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear or Linda Lay Shuler’s She Who Remembers. As for the present, Sojourner creates interesting late-1980s characters in Liz, Deena, Hatt, and Rose. All four are strong-willed survivors of life’s big and little problems. Sojourner’s problem is that she doesn’t seem quite certain of what she should “do” with the women. An unwieldy amalgam of character sketches, loosely linked episodes, and place description, the present-day tale lacks both focus and drive. A...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 389-390
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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