I’ve finished a pile things since I last did a reading post, so I guess I’ll split them into a couple separate posts, with this one focusing on short stories.
I had mixed feelings about “One Hot Night” by Archie Weller. Weller is an Australian, part-Aboriginal author. Overall, I’m glad I read it, despite the seemingly nonchalant references to violence against women. (I say “seemingly” because I do actually suspect that it was very intentional and with purpose.) I sometimes forget that racism does not solely reside in the U.S. It is, of course, still a disgraceful, horrible reality in most (or more likely, all) of Western society. And this story, “One Hot Night,” depicts the reality of it in Australia, not through soap-box proclamations, but simply through the story of an evening in the life of three young Aboriginal men. It broke my heart in about a dozen different ways. (I read this story in Indigenous Australian Voices edited by Jennifer Sabbioni, Kay Schaffer, and Sidonie Smith. Unfortunately there were very few short stories in this anthology; it instead contained many excerpts from longer works, and for whatever reason I don’t tend to read those.)
The next short story I read was “Deer Woman” by Paula Gunn Allen. Of Laguna, Sioux, and Lebanese-American descent, Paula Gunn Allen identified as Laguna. Her fiction writings are said to be inspired by Pueblo tales, and that is evident in her wonderful story “Deer Woman.” As much as I enjoyed this story, I think I enjoyed learning about Paula Gunn Allen even more. What an incredibly cool woman she was, both creative writer and scholar, feminist and lesbian, poet and literary critic. I’m looking forward to reading more of her work. (From Reckonings: Contemporary Short Fiction by Native American Women edited by Hertha D. Sweet Wong, Lauren Stuart Muller, and Jana Sequoya Magdaleno)
“The Turtle Gal” by Beth E. Brant was my favorite of the bunch. Oh my, but how this one stole my heart. Made me want to read everything she ever wrote…but of course, I fear I couldn’t possibly love any story more than this one. I am a sucker for stories of making your own family, and this was one of the most beautiful ones I’ve ever read. It’s the story of an old gay black man, alone since his love died, and a little Native American girl, alone when her mother dies, and how they choose to make a new family of their own. Beth E. Brandt was of Mohawk descent. (Also from Reckonings: Contemporary Short Fiction by Native American Women)
And finally, I read “minimal indian” by Diane Glancy, a Cherokee writer. I also enjoyed this story, though in some way that I can’t quite put my finger on, I felt more removed from it. Or maybe that’s not quite the right way to say it. It’s just that I came away from this story knowing that I hadn’t taken away as much from the story as the author so generously gave. But despite my failure, I feel it was more than worth my time. There were moments when I felt I was reading poetry, and thus it didn’t surprise me to find that along with an author of short stories, Diane Glancy is also a poet, a playwright, and an essayist. (This too was from Reckonings: Contemporary Short Fiction by Native American Women.)