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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. Here the reader can view professional wrestling and an Apollo mission through the eyes of Grandfather Faustin. Watching television for the first time, Faustin laughs quietly when he learns men will bring back rocks from the lifeless moon in their search for knowledge. Later, having dreamed of a “Skquuyuh mahkina ” invading Pueblo oral tradition, he is relieved to figure out that the Mericanos, “when they found even the tiniest bit of life, even if it was harm­ ful,” will believe they have found knowledge (8, 14). Having understood this, Faustin decides to cheer for Apache Red, the Chisheh wrestler whom at first he disliked and who will certainly beat the blond Mericano again. Ortiz’s irony is often cross-culturally deprecating: in “San Francisco Indians,” an elderly Indian comes to the San Francisco Indian Center in search of his lost granddaughter. There he finds a tribe of hippies who invite him to Haight Ashbury. Puzzled by their request that he make “real” a blonde girl’s ini­ tiation into the “tribe” by attending a peyote ceremony, he walks away, as unsuccessful in his search for the real Indian as the hippies. Guilt is a recurrent motif in the stories of alcoholism, homicide, animal abuse, and divorce. Probably the best-known of these stories, “The Killing of a State Cop,” can now be better understood when read here with a companion piece, “Something’s Going On.” The former comprises the confession of Felipe, modeled on the actual Willie Felipe, who was convicted of murder in 1953. Both Felipe and the story’s twelve-year-old narrator appear unable to 2 1 2 WAL 3 5 .1 SUMMER 2 0 0 0 escape from their own Catholic confessional narrative of guilt. Unlike the anonymous young narrator of “The Killing of a State Cop,” who in the end says he “prayed a rosary or something” for Felipe, Jimmo in “Something’s Going On” appears unbound by guilt (86). Jimmo takes his .22 and follows his father, Willie Bear (86). Willie, a one-legged Vietnam veteran, has dispatched with one of his crutches his “Indian-friendly” Anglo employer and fled with his .30-30 while his family was at Mass. Remembering his father’s stories of an earlier Pueblo resistant, Jimmo knows where to go. In the divorce stories such as “Feathers,” Ortiz skillfully interweaves selfdeprecating irony with dreams of cultural and marital renewal as the divorcees’ bitterness smolders beneath their gestures of remaining mutual respect. For teachers and readers of western American literature, this collection provides a narrative complement to already published collections of poetry by Ortiz. These collected stories are ample evidence that Ortiz is not only an accomplished Acoma poet but also a skilled writer of short fiction in which Indian writers on their way to Spider Springs, where...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 211-212
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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