Killing Time with Strangers

Killing Time with Strangers

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by W. S. Penn
     
 

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Young Pal needs help with his dreaming.

Palimony Blue Larue, a mixblood growing up in a small California town, suffers from a painful shyness and wants more than anything to be liked. That's why Mary Blue, his Nez Perce mother, has dreamed the weyekin, the spirit guide, to help her bring into the world the one lasting love her son needs to

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Overview

Young Pal needs help with his dreaming.

Palimony Blue Larue, a mixblood growing up in a small California town, suffers from a painful shyness and wants more than anything to be liked. That's why Mary Blue, his Nez Perce mother, has dreamed the weyekin, the spirit guide, to help her bring into the world the one lasting love her son needs to overcome the diffidence that runs so deep in his blood. The magical (and not totally competent) weyekin pops in and out of Pal's life at the most unexpected times—and in the most unlikely guises—but seems to have difficulty setting him on the right path. Is there any hope for Palimony Blue?

Don't ask his father, La Vent Larue; La Vent is past hope, past help, a city zoning planner and a pawn in the mayor's development plans who ends up crazy and in jail after he shoots the mayor in the—well, never mind. Better to ask Pal's mother, who summons the weyekin when she isn't working on a cradle board for Pal and his inevitable bride. And while you're at it, ask the women in Pal's life: Sally the preacher's daughter, Brandy the waitressing flautist, Tara the spoiled socialite. And be sure to ask Amanda, if you can catch her. If you can dream her.

Using comic vision to address serious concerns of living, Penn has written a freewheeling novel that will surpass most readers' expectations of "ethnic fiction." Instead of the usual polemics, it's marked by a sense of humor and a playfulness of language that springs directly from Native American oral tradition.

What more can be said about a book that has to be read to the end in order to get to the beginning? That Killing Time with Strangers is unlike any novel you have read before? Or perhaps that it is agonizingly familiar, giving us glimpses of a young man finding his precarious way in life? But when the power of dreaming is unleashed, time becomes negotiable and life's joys and sorrows go up for grabs. And as sure as yellow butterflies will morph into Post-It notes, you will know you have experienced a new and utterly captivating way of looking at the world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Winner of the Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award "With the captivating rhythm of an oral storyteller, this tale spun by a weyekin, or spirit guide, describes a Nez Perce family's struggle to keep their souls and still fit into the white world. . . . Dream and reality often overlap in the course of the tale, as the weyekin appears in the guise of an ally, sometimes aiding, sometimes complicating Pal's search. But the story remains grounded in the full-bodied reality of all the characters, with Pal especially endearing. As he's drawn into quirky, sexy, and often very funny circumstances, the reader gets a glimpse of the real cost of cultural adaptation." —Booklist "Penn creates a novel satirizing Californian mores as it balances personal, soulful dreams against that big one: the American dream." —Publishers Weekly "The theme of Killing Time with Strangers, in which a young man of mixed blood tries to balance his Native American heritage with the white world in which he lives, is a familiar one. What sets this novel apart is its fresh approach. . . . A pixy and humorous tale, so much a part of the art of the traditional Native American storytelling." —Denver Post "Penn's deft and delicate prose moves us easily through real and magical worlds." —Library Journal "An entrancing, timeless novel. It's a work whose social observations subtly upset what some think they know about the Native American experience. Not only that, it just might teach you how to dream." —Tucson Weekly
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Magical realism is an excellent way to tell love stories in this disenchanted age, and Penn's new novel delves into that realm using a shape-shifting spirit, a weyekin, to describe how Palimony Blue Larue meets his destined love, Amanda. The weyekin was dreamed into existence by Pal's mother, Mary Blue, a young Nez Perc woman. While working in a kitchen in a Mexican diner in California, Mary meets and marries the ambitious La Vent Larue, a mixed-blood Osage college student from a long line of failed men, who's determined to be the success in his family. His job as an urban planner assisting the mayor of Gilroy, Calif., requires him to expedite a series of unconscionable projects, such as removing an Indian burial ground to make way for a shopping center. Mary Blue turns away from her compromised husband and conjures up the weyekins, spirits who take the form of magical companions (named Chingaro, Parker, Hinmot) to guide her son, Palimony, to Amanda. Mary had named her son "Palomino," but the white nurse had intentionally changed the name on his birth certificate. That incident turned out to be emblematic of Pal's misbegotten future relationships with women. With his father descending into madness, Pal grows up different in both skin color and spirit from his white classmates. His main shortcoming, in Mary's opinion, is his irrepressible desire to be liked, causing him to fall for impossibly inappropriate women: a zealous Christian named Sally Pedon, a musician/waitress named Brandy and the beautiful, wealthy and unscrupulous Tara Dunnahowe. These teenage escapades provide some of the more entertaining moments in Penn's dreamscape. Through the lens of Pal's erotic itinerary, Penn creates a novel satirizing Californian mores as it balances personal, soulful dreams against that big one: the American dream. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Told from the perspective of his weyekin, or spirit guide, this whimsical tale of Palimony Blue Larue's life is one young man's odyssey of self-discovery. As a mixed-blood in contemporary society (his mother was a Nez Perce), Pal is lost until he connects with his Native roots and begins dreaming his own life, slowly shucking off the dreams society has established for him. With tongue firmly in cheek, Penn (The Absence of Angels) has the weyekin turn up in the most unlikely of guises to guide Pal as he stumbles from one loveless relationship to another. Pal recognizes his weyekin in a hobo camp, a dead body, and a crucified squirrel, as well as in brief meetings with many colorful bystanders. Penn's deft and delicate prose moves us easily through real and magical worlds. Some of his images are a bit obvious and heavy-handed, but this drawback is overshadowed by his sly humor and the clear picture that emerges of how an "outsider" can drown in his own lack of confidence or die from wanting to be liked too much. Recommended for both public and academic libraries, as well as Native American fiction collections everywhere.--Mary A. Stout, Pima Community Coll. Lib., Tucson Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780816520534
Publisher:
University of Arizona Press
Publication date:
07/11/2005
Series:
Sun Tracks Series, #45
Pages:
283
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

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