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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 Grandfather Faustin’s wis­ dom resides, look down at new frontiersmen on the moon. Dark River. By Louis Owens. Norm an: University of Oklahom a Press, 1999. 286 pages, $23.95. Reviewed by Maggie Dwyer University of Texas at Arlington Dark River, singular, is the title of the latest novel by Louis Owens, but in fact many dark rivers run through it. And to continue the Maclean allusion, brothers meet on the banks of these rivers, and they frequently fish. Despite both authors’ background in the Forest Service, the similarities end here, for while Maclean follows a fairly straightforward linear story, where cause and effect are clear, Owens has muddied the channel considerably by allowing sev­ eral tributaries to feed into this Arizona Apache river, including the Yazoo and Black Rivers of the Choctaw homeland in Mississippi. Readers familiar with Owens’s earlier novels The Sharpest Sight (1991) and Bone Game (1994) will recognize the scent and demeanor of the transcendent rivers. In what might in one sense be termed a speculative novel demonstrating Vine Deloria Jr.’s state­ ment “for this land, God is red,” Owens experiments with “what if.” What if a Choctaw warrior finds himself in Apache land? Whose culture prevails? Whose stories are told? The answers depend largely on how close the characters in this novel, both living and dead, are to the cultural intersection of the river. In this, his fifth novel, Owens clearly uses metaphors that he has made his own: water in general, rivers in particular, and the canoe guy in the animated (but in past novels, usually broken) beer sign. Wolves, too, are frequently an important symbol for Owens. His Choctaw protagonist’s last name, “Nashoba,” for instance, means “wolf,” a name that would alarm his Apache community if B o o k r e v ie w s 2 1 3 they knew it because they are taught to fear this complex animal. Other names hold different meanings; it is no accident that the elder holy woman, spiritual matriarch of the community, is named Mrs. John Edwards, whose long-departed husband bore an uncanny resemblance to the Puritan mystic. Humans also mir­ ror mythic figures of Apache and Choctaw fable throughout the novel, and the interweaving of Apache and Choctaw myths makes worthwhile a trip to the bookshelf for Apache creation stories and Choctaw eschatological lore. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that this Apache community knows far more about Jake than he knows about himself. In brief, mixed-blood Vietnam veteran Jacob Nashoba is the local game warden, who frequently hikes alone into the Dark River Canyon. Jake is estranged from his wife due to his inability to adjust to her extended family and due to his untreated post-traumatic stress. Early in the novel, Nashoba ignores orders by the tribal CEO to cease travel into the canyon and goes looking for his granddaughter, who has talked a local entrepreneur who sells vision quests to rich tourists into leaving...


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pp. 212-213
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