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124 Western American Literature Growing UpNativeAmerican: An Anthology. Edited by Patricia Riley. Foreword by Ines Hernandez. (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1993. 333 pages, $23.00.) A good anthology inspires its reader to seek out more of each author’s work. In this respect, Patricia Riley’s collection succeeds admirably. In an exploration of the question “What does it mean to grow up Native American?” Riley has gathered twenty-two essays and stories about childhood. Spanning two centuries, the selections from fifteen tribal nations offer a balance of male and female experiences. Although many of the pieces come from well-known books, for example Black Elk Speaks and Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine, the anthology contains a number of fresh works, such as Eric Gansworth’s “The Ballad of Plastic Fred” and Louis Owens’s “Water Witch.”When Riley includes excerpts, she provides ample-sized selections, avoiding the temptation to offer more authors by giving fewer pages to each. (Nevertheless, a few absences, such as Charles Eastman and Mourning Dove, are puzzling.) Ines Hernandez contributes an excellent foreword which articulates a number of the issues involved in Native American identity, and Simon Ortiz’s essay “The Language We Know” elo­ quently addresses the issue of Native Americans writing in English. The fasci­ nation of the book comes from listening to how these diverse pieces speak to one another. The collection is divided into four parts: Going Forward, Looking Back; The Nineteenth Century; Schooldays; and Twentieth Century. This organiza­ tion is somewhat weak because the sections don’t coalesce as complete units. Although each section has an introduction, these are too brief to fulfill their task. Riley clearly wants the reader’s attention focused on the authors’ work, but it would help if she would provide more of an overall framework. Itwould also be useful ifRileywould explain her decision to mingle fiction and autobiography. She seems to equate the two forms, using both for their “narratives” about childhood, yet she doesn’t offer a rationale for doing so. Nor is there an explanation for the exclusion of poetry, and its absence is particularly puzzling because Joseph Bruchac’s use of a poem in “Notes of a Translator’s Son”demonstrates its appropriateness. Overall, Growing Up Native American is a worthwhile thematic collection, and it fulfills the editor’s desire to show the “commonality and diversity of Native American experience.” JOSEPH MILLS University ofCalifornia, Davis ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
p. 124
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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