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Reviews 91 The Light on the Tent Wall: A Bridging. By Mary TallMountain. (Los Angeles: American Indian Studies Center, 1990. 96 pages, $12.00.) Mary TallMountain’s The Light on the Tent Wall is appropriately subtitled A Bridging. In form, TallMountain’s new book bridges the structural distinctions between essay and poem, novel and essay, and novel and poem. In content it attempts to build some more important bridges, as between the past and the present, traditional values and the modern world, important bridges of under­ standing for all of us. Consider her poem “Good Grease.”Failed graduates of Weight Watchers, like me, have learned to fear and detest greasy food. We have forgotten the need for calories experienced by people who live in cold climates and by people who must engage in hard physical labor in order to live. For them, “The grease would warm us / when hungry winter howled.” Or consider her short story, “The Summer Pond.” In it she tells of a Depression-era family forced to become migrant farm workers during the Oregon summer. She writes of the picking of hops, and she makes our hands hurt with the pain of the bitter acid that seeps from the beautiful flowers as the pickers strip them and pack them into bags. Following an excellent introduction by Paula Gunn Allen, TallMountain’s book begins with “Outflight, An Essay.”In “Outflight”she writes of two trips to the village of her birth, the first undertaken after being away for more than fifty years, yet, seven years later, at the end of the second flight, when she arrives at that same village she writes, “Now I feel that I’m really home.”We, her readers, must recognize the strangeness of such a home and feel the truth of the bridging provided by her return. TallMountain includes excerpts from a novel, Doyon. The excerpts are filled with rich images and, like the rest of TallMountain’s book, they show the forces of separation that create the need for bridging. TallMountain’s poems, of course, are at the heart of the book. One of my favorites is “The Last Wolf.”Americans who are descendants of Europeans also tell stories of wild animals. Hercules killed a lion and made his part of Europe safe for civilization, Israel Putnam killed the last wolf in Pomfret, Connecticut, making that area safe for civilization. Jim Doggett and Davy Crockett killed bears. TallMountain’s “The Last W olf’ evokes memories of such stories and provides us with an antidote and a bridge to appreciate the wildness repre­ sented by the last wolf. ROBERT DODGE University ofNevada ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
p. 91
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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