In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews 359 of the book. In her essay ‘Transitions,” Hale chronicles her life as a young, unmarried woman with a child living in San Francisco, getting an education with pledges of financial help from the Coeur d’Alene Reservation; although never fulfilled, the tribe gave Hale the hope to “hang on” in her struggle to support herself and her child as a welfare mother in San Francisco until she finally won scholarships and stipends from Berkeley on her own. Janet Campbell Hale gives her readers a rich and well-written memoir, a backward glance over obstacles—mainly imposed by her mother’s psychologi­ cal abuse and her father’s alcoholism—that would have stunted most daugh­ ters. More, she explores the tortuous journey she has taken as an interracial daughter and writer in the essays “Return to Bear Paw” and “Dust to Dust.” In the last essay she questions whether or not she would have chosen to pass for white ifit had been possible. Hale comes to no simple conclusions; nor does she shrink from the hard education she received throughout her “transient child­ hood” of constant poverty and prejudice in a family that seems never to have valued her. Yet, in each unflinching essay Hale imbues her recollections with a stark beauty of detail that rivets and rewards the reader. ESTHER F. LANIGAN The College ofWilliam &f Mary Backtracking: Ancient Art of Southern Idaho. By Max G. Pavesic and William Studebaker. Foreword by Catherine S. Fowler. (Pocatello: Idaho Museum of Natural History, 1993. 69 pages, $19.95.) This slender book aims to document an exhibition, to lend human context to prehistoric work, and to speculate on the nature of art, but these good intentions suffer in the process. The foreword deals the first blow: Native American art has become increasingly popular in recent years, hopefully paralleling in large measure an increasing awareness on the part of the general public of ethnic diversity and the unique contribu­ tions made to American culture by a variety of peoples of diverse heritages. If you doubt the ugly influence of proposal writing on academic speech, then here’s bald proof. The preface equals the foreword in style: . . . Backtrackinghas been a learning experience for everyone involved. Archaeological interpretations were melded with poetry, mythology, and art. The book, hopefully, combines aesthetic choice with a respect for the past and conveys a sense of the aesthetic merits of ancient Idahoans. 360 WesternAmerican Literature After two dubious uses of “hopefully,”I opened Modem American Usage by Wilson Follett (1966): The special badness of hopefully is not alone that it strains the sense of -lyto the breaking point, but that it appeals to speakers and writers who do not think about what they are saying and pick up words by reflex action. Past the lobby—and lobbying—Pavesic settles into a decent, tractoring style that conveys his considerable knowledge and his ideas, as long as he plows straight. Theory, though, wakes the demons sleeping in his pen. Indifferent style aside, the illustrations show wonderful work by curators and photographers, and above all by the early residents (c. 11,000 years and counting) of the Snake River Plain. More than once, though, these people are retroactively made citizens: “ancient Idahoans.” Besides being ethnocentric, this is simply galling. Studebaker is a good poet, but he strains: ‘This delineation of mythology is based on the preferential assumption of Newtonian physics: reality must be measurable, tangible, mechanically perceptive.” Perceptible? Phrases like “the mental limits of the mind” likewise block the trail. By page forty-seven, Studebaker finds his feet: It seems the Shoshoneans had a quantum view of reality. Things could be ‘this way or that way’depending how one chose to see. If one chose to look at life through the eyes of the ‘acquisitive spirit,’he saw poverty. If one opted to study his dreams, he saw opulence. Too late, we find the clean and sturdy writing that we’d like throughout. As a catalogue, this book has its place. Specialists may endure thisjargonheavy trot, but decent editing could have made it worthy in all respects. In its present state, the book is marred by the callous use of language. Set against...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 359-360
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.