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Reviews 67 humor and self-critique throughout this book of meditations on encounters with the natural world, indoors and out. The earlier essays contemplate growth and wandering, while the final essays in the volume emphasize mortality and the process of finding/making a “home.” In “Some Mortal Speculations,” Daniel uses several observations of death in nature as springboards toward explaining his own “discontent with mortality.” Catching himself turning death into an abstraction, he notes: “My mind, like my hands, is best suited to the grasping of smaller things, things that happen close in front ofme, things I can see and turn slowly in memory and see again, in imagination’s second light”—this devotion to observed and re-imagined particulars is Daniel’s guiding method in these essays. The book’s concluding piece, “The Trail Home,” strongly reflects the worldviews of the author’s friends and mentors, Wallace Stegner and Wendell Berry. Like many important contemporary nature writers, Daniel is deeply concerned with the psychology of awareness: “We began to realize our home around us,”he recalls, “we are realizing it now, bywhat we learn to be aware of, what we learn to see and listen for and come to know as part of our lives.” Whether discussing tomato-planting or the phenomenon of death, ‘The Impoverishment of Sightseeing”or the relationship between humans and ani­ mals (“Among Animals”), the essays in this volume display not only sparkling language but clear, passionate thinking. One of the most scathing and visionary essays in the book is “Remembering the Sacred Family,”in which Daniel reveals the difference between awareness of ecology as an abstraction and actually living in accordance with the principle of relatedness. Although these essays certainly offer powerful aesthetic and intellectual sustenance, they go much further—they guide us toward a refined understanding of our lives in the world. SCOTT SLOVIC Southwest Texas State University ClaimingBreath. By Diane Glancy. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1992. 115 pages, $15.95.) From the first, Diane Glancy’s 1991 North American Indian Prose Award winner Claiming Breath makes it clear that the project here is to investigate borders, margins and cultural divides, as well as the interiors between those borders, and how each creates, sustains and rubs against each. In a narrow column centered within hyper-margins, Glancy opens by describing herself as “writing with a split voice, often experimenting with language until the parts equal some sort of a whole.” Glancy’s text extends and expands the current movement in contemporary Native American writing ofuncovering and explor­ ing the lived practice of participation in and exclusion from more than one culture. The writing is embedded in daily ritual, all the while blurring bound­ 68 WesternAmerican Literature aries of poetry, prose, theory as poem, prose poem—questioning, resisting through the ritual what constitutes and is constituted by margins and what they bind. Claiming Breath is patterned on the modern journal. Pages are dated chro­ nologically, covering one year in the life of a public school writer-in-residence. It is a resistant chronology, a journal that moves between and among dates, times, places, people, and ideas, but always appears to move forward through the calendar. Glancy calls it “a winter count of sorts,”a form she used earlier in her work LoneDog’s Winter Count, another fine, poetic working through of many of the knots she continues to worry in ClaimingBreath. But this time, language is landscape on the page, in the words, and land­ scape becomes language. Words fail to describe, but achieve much larger aims as they are what they cannot describe. “Read the sweep of words out of the wigwam. Sweep. Sweep. Migration of language from blue trees/the leaves whirl at the window into the field of houses. . . ”And “Out here where water’s scarce cows stand in ponds to hold them down. Language startswith their breath & the hurrrr of wind around grain elevators/space ships in their towers.” Returning again and again to images tied up in Native American being, daring to claim breath, the essays here travel both inward and outward terrain, exploring their common ground. RENAE MOORE BREDIN University ofArizona Going Back to Bisbee. By Richard Shelton...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 67-68
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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