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2 1 0 WAL 3 5 .1 SUMMER 2 0 0 0 Speaking for the (generations: Native Writers on Writing. Edited by Simon ]. Ortiz. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1998. 228 pages, $40.00/$ 16.95. Reviewed by Paul Pavich Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colorado Speaking for the Generations is a superb collection of essays by Native American writers compiled by Simon Ortiz. He has chosen to include poets, novelists, and playwrights from across the North American continent. All the essays are reflections on the nature of creative writing, the power of language, the continuity of tradition, and the importance of connection to the earth. Simon Ortiz has long been one of the most articulate voices in the Southwest, a champion of the idea ofthe radical interrelationship of all things. In his introduction he sets down the theoretical basis of the book: Speaking for the sake ofthe land and the people means speaking of the inextricable relationship and interconnection between them. Land and people are interdependent. In fact, they are one and the same essential matter ofExistence. They cannot be separated and delineated into singular entities. If anything is more vital, essential and absolutely important in Native cultural philosophy, it is this concept of inter­ dependence: the fact that without land there is no life and without a responsible social and cultural outlook by humans, no life-sustaining land is possible, (xii) Following Ortiz’s lead, the first essay, Leslie Marmon Silko’s “Interior and Exterior Landscapes: The Pueblo Migration Stories,” considers the response of human beings to their environment. She delineates the differences in a world­ view that envisions people as an integral part of the land fromone that sets them apart and makes them observers rather than participants. She points out that the traditional migration story makes reference to a landscape withwhich she is very familiar and which is essential to her sense ofcultural identity. The ancient story creates a linking of the land and contemporary experience and invests it with meaning. For Silko, this is the most important function of literature. A wide range of experience is examined in the rest of the essays. Gloria Bird, Esther G. Belin, Roberta J. Hill, A. A. Hedge Coke, Daniel David Moses, Elizabeth Woody, Jeannette Armstrong, and Victor D. Montejo articulate the need for Native American writers to be voices raised against the erasing of cul­ ture. They examine, often through recounting painfully ironic personal expe­ riences, the role of the Christian church, the American educational system, and the government in the process of alienation from land and tradition. Some of the writers focus on the importance of parents, grandparents, and other elders who serve as bulwarks against the sense of loss that threatens to overwhelm them. Others reflect more on the ways in which their writing can BO O K REVIEW S assist communities to regain wholeness, whether it be in Texas, British Columbia, or Guatemala. All of the contributors to this volume celebrate the power of language to forge creative bonds with people, the land, and the past. Their stories demon­ strate their ability to endure. A. A. Hedge Coke sums it up by saying, “I try to face this in my work, to confront the issues that drive me, whether they are pos­ itive or negative. I believe this aspect of my writing enables me to survive hard times and hard situations by helping me turn harmful events around so they become something healing themselves. Surviving, always surviving” (106). Men on the Moon: Collected Short Stories. By Simon J. Ortiz. Tuscon: University of Arizona Press, 1999. 216 pages, $35.00/$ 17.95. Reviewed by Brewster E. Fitz Oklahoma State University, Stillwater Ortiz’s new collection brings together stories published from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. The characters in these stories share neither the twentieth-century American vision of men on the moon nor of men on the frontier. Informed by a vision of Native American reclamation, Ortiz’s writing is always political, usually humorous, at times poignant. Through the use of understatement and superimposed points of view, he achieves realistic satire. This can be clearly seen in the story after which the collection is named...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 210-211
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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