CVIndependent

Wed08232017

Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Literature

15 Apr 2014
by  - 
It’s unthinkable that kids in America would ever be allowed to play “slaves and masters,” writes Walter Echo-Hawk, but we don’t see anything wrong with Junior strapping on the trusty ol’ cap-shooters for a game of “cowboys and Indians.” Echo-Hawk, a Pawnee tribal member and lawyer who has toiled for 35 years in federal Indian law, has written a provocative book that examines the tragic and continuing effects of colonial conquest and its resulting “settler” mindset. He does this without ever scolding his readers and succeeds in pointing a way toward eventual healing. In the Light of Justice shines its light onto often-overlooked issues, explaining that what many whites think of as history—a bygone era of treaty-making, frontier warfare and taming the West—is, to most Indian people, actually current events. S. James Anaya, a human-rights investigator for the United Nations, agrees. In his foreword to the book, Anaya writes that,…
17 Mar 2014
by  - 
We all remember our first job—perhaps an entry-level gig in fast food or retail. However, John Kevin Scariano had a very different experience: His first job was at a sewage-treatment plant in Chicago. He’s written about that experience in his new book, Marsh Township Sanitary District. The book begins in 1975. Scariano—now a resident of Albuquerque, NM, who works at the University of New Mexico's School of Medicine—at the time was a high school graduate looking for work, so his father phoned a friend, a superintendent with the Marsh Township Sanitary District. The book’s back cover has a quote that sets things up nicely: “Because I was unable to participate in World War II, as it had ended three decades before, my father decided the next-best experience in which I could fully attain manhood would be to spend two summers working in a sewage-treatment plant south of Chicago.” The details…
14 Mar 2014
Doug Peacock, author of Grizzly Years and Walking It Off, once walked point as a polar-bear guard on an Arctic expedition, armed with only a homemade spear. He still loves large predators and new territory, and in his latest outing, he asks us to accompany him on “the greatest adventure” ever—the peopling of the New World. Roughly 20,000 years ago, scouts on a ridge in Beringia got their first glimpse of the “unending wild country that encompassed two continents uninhabited by humans.” Some 5,000 years later, at the very end of the Pleistocene, the climate changed; oceans rose; and the Bering land bridge flooded. The formerly ice-barred interior of the Americas opened, allowing passage south. “I can’t think of a richer, wilder, more-perilous time to live,” Peacock writes. There are parallels as well as vast differences between that time and ours, Peacock says. He is curious about how Homo sapiens…
07 Mar 2014
by  - 
Thompson Grey abandons his Indiana farm in 1858 and joins a caravan of pioneers trekking west along the Santa Fe Trail in Gary Schanbacher’s accomplished new novel, Crossing Purgatory, a moral Western that questions what any decent human being owes another amid the harsh conditions of the American frontier. After Thompson’s wife and sons die of diphtheria while he is away on a fruitless mission to seek an advance on his inheritance, he plunges into deep mourning, blaming himself for being absent when his family became ill. In grief and guilt, he tramps west, a man with his “spirit out of fix,” and with no plan in mind—until he encounters a caravan led by Captain Upperdine, a shrewd businessman who guides groups of potential settlers across pioneer trails and trades with Indians, homesteaders and prospectors along the way. Upperdine sees the taciturn wanderer as an asset, a competent and honorable…
13 Feb 2014
by  - 
Many people have a hard time understanding and grasping transgenderism—and a local woman, Kaitlin Sine Riordan, is trying to change that by telling her story with her book, Bondage of Self. Born a boy, Riordan was raised in Richmond, Va., by a father who was extremely self-disciplined and into bodybuilding, and a mother who was a housewife. During her childhood, she found herself confused about her gender identity. She describes a moment, when she was 6 years old, on a shopping trip with her mother: She was playing with dresses in a clothing store. When her mother said she would tell Riordan’s father, she disciplined herself by bashing a toy rifle against her legs, leaving big, purple welts. It turns out that her father was cold and indifferent to the whole matter. Riordan also shares details about her life as a teenager—revealing a person in serious pain. She played basketball…
15 Feb 2014
by  - 
Many of us have attended public meetings at which emotions run uncomfortably high. Each side is firmly, sometimes even fiercely, entrenched; voices are raised; tempers are frayed. People hurl verbal grenades at each other, refusing to concede an inch. Actual communication is rare, and the gathering often degenerates into chaos. That’s where people like Lucy Moore come in. As a professional mediator and facilitator, she is charged with bringing some measure of understanding and perhaps peace (or what passes for it) to such meetings, persuading warring parties to dial down their emotions and truly listen to each other. A Santa Fe, N.M., resident, she’s been working in the West for more than 25 years, dealing with hot-button issues such as water rights, toxic waste, Indian education, grazing issues and reservoir management. Her new book, Common Ground on Hostile Turf, is both a memoir and a primer on how mediation can…
07 Feb 2014
by  - 
“Letting go of one’s soul mate is not easy.” So writes award-winning author and retired University of New Mexico professor Rudolfo Anaya in his latest novel,The Old Man’s Love Story. Inspired by the death of his beloved wife, Patricia, in 2010, the book is so poignant, and so powerful in its intimate exploration of grief, that readers may find themselves pausing after each chapter to sit quietly with their own experience of loss. They may also find themselves chuckling at the narrator’s wry observations on the persistence of lust, and at his foil, Ernesto, an oversexed jock who struts about in a Speedo at the pool where the elderly narrator does aerobics “in the water, returning to my fish nature.” The best books on grief—whether fiction or nonfiction—examine death and the concerns of the survivors with uncompromising candor. Anaya’s “old man” can’t stop asking questions after his wife dies. “Could…
19 Jan 2014
by  - 
In To Conserve Unimpaired, University of Utah professor Robert Keiter provides an unvarnished view of “America’s best idea”: the National Park System. Keiter, the country’s pre-eminent legal expert on the subject, tackles the question: Why does the park idea still evoke so much controversy when its value is so widely acknowledged? For one thing, as he explains, it’s not just about parks. “As highly valued and visible public places, the national parks are inherently political entities … reflecting our larger dialogue about nature conservation and its role in our civic life.” Keiter traces the evolution of each major idea that has shaped our vision of the national parks. In the early days, the Park Service actively sought to improve visitor experiences by attempting to control nature. Not only did the agency suppress wildfires; it also eradicated wolves to protect more “desirable” wildlife, and fed bears garbage “to create an evening…
24 Dec 2013
by  - 
I’ll be honest: I’ve pooh-poohed e-books for years, primarily for sensual reasons. A cold plastic Kindle or iPad doesn’t offer the same experience as paper and glue—the tactile sensation and distinct smell of bound literature. Well, all that changed this month when I found myself buried under a teaching load of six college composition classes—enough to make Socrates beg for hemlock. I mean, have you ever graded 150 research papers? For two weeks, I self-administered a transfusion, replacing my blood with black coffee and whatever’s in those 5-Hour Energy vials. Despite December’s stress, I managed to read a number of great tomes this year—many available as e-books. Now, some of you Luddites are saying, So? You can’t send an e-book as a gift. Actually, you can if you have a Kindle account, and the process is simpler than Stephenie Meyer’s prose. Just go online to the Kindle Store, and choose…
23 Dec 2013
by  - 
Dashiell Hammett is a name that’s familiar to fans of mystery novels; the prolific noir-era writer penned numerous renowned books, including several that became legendary big-screen successes. Now Hammett is himself the subject of a novel. Hammett Unwritten, by Owen Fitzstephen (aka Gordon McAlpine), a Southern California resident, is a fictionalized account based on the late author’s life surrounding The Maltese Falcon. The book starts out on New Year’s Eve 1959 in Long Island. At that time, it had been almost 30 years since Hammett had written a new story; he was in the midst of health issues he would not discuss. He is reviewing the obituary that he wrote for himself; we see how troubled he is over divorcing his first wife in San Francisco, and only keeping in contact with his children through support payments and the occasional phone call. Booze, smoking and women definitely had an impact…