OTHER DESTINIES: UNDERSTANDING THE AMERICAN INDIAN NOVEL by Louis Owens. University of Oklahoma Press, 1005 Asp Avenue, Norman, OK 73019. 1992, Index, bibliography, references, notes. 291 pp., $24.95 cloth. 0-8061-2423-7
Using English to describe Native American experiences is a long stretch, but many have been up to the task. Owens, of Choctaw-Cherokee-Irish descent and a Professor of Literature at the University of California at Santa Cruz, introduces, profiles, and critiques the works of these successful writers in one of the most gratifying books of literary criticism I've read in several years.
Owens begins with an introduction in which he charts the relationship between the novel and the Native American oral tradition, specifies the development of archetypes (notably cultural survival), and dismisses charges that those writing in English are severing the bonds of their native languages. From there, "Other Destinies" contains analyses of the writings of Mourning Dove, D'Arcy McNickle, Natchee Scott Momaday, James Welch, Leslie Marmon Silko (regretfully, he leaves out "Almanac of the Dead"), Louise Erdrich, Michael Dorris, and many others.
Insightful and uncompromising, Owens has penned an excellent textbook for classes on American Indian Literature. Highly recommended. Reviewed by Steve Brock
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Native American BOOKS, text and graphics copyright Paula Giese, 1996
Last Updated:Wednesday, April 10, 1996 - 2:39:21 AM