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Talking Leaves


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Lesley's ( Winterkill ) anthology of contemporary Native American short fiction is broad almost by definition. Many of the stories are by well-known authors (Louise Erdrich, Gerald Vizenor, N. Scott Momaday). Others, including some of the best, are by less-familiar writers. A wide variety of traditions--more than 30 tribes or bands--are represented. Themes range from ancient lore to the modern, pk often assimilated life-styles of Native Americans. what does that mean? Clifford Trafzer beautifully evokes the 19th-century Indian Wars and the slow-burning desire for revenge felt by their victims. Darryl Babe Wilson deals with the twin Indian themes of memory and respect for the land. Thomas King's hilarious piece satirizes movie portrayals of Native Americans by white actors, using as a structure the plot of the popular Field of Dreams. There is much humor in this collection. There is also much pain. Perhaps the finest story is Rayna Greene's impressionistic ``High Cotton,'' a slice-of-life tale a young woman talking to her grandmother at a relative's funeral. (Oct.)

Editor Lesley has gathered an impressive assortment of short stories for this anthology. The authors include such well-known writers as Michael Dorris, Louise Erdrich, M. Scott Momaday, and Mary Tallmountain as well as some accomplished but less-well-known writers and some totally fresh voices. Some of the stories are excerpted from novels, but many of them are seeing first publication or are reprinted from small literary magazines. Many of these authors deserve a much wider audience, including Debra Earling, whose ``The Old Marriage'' tells a story of young love reviewed from the distance of maturity, or Maurice Kenny, whose ``Wet Moccasins'' presents a touching slice of contemporary life. All these stories have a strong sense of person and place and engagingly inform of the Native American condition. Recommended for public and academic collections.-- Debbie Bogen schutz, Cincinnati Technical Coll.

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