Men on the Moon: Collected Short Stories

Men on the Moon: Collected Short Stories

by Simon J. Ortiz
     
 

When Faustin, the old Acoma, is given his first television set, he considers it a technical wonder, a box full of mystery. What he sees on its screen that first day, however, is even more startling than the television itself: men have landed on the moon. Can this be real? For Simon Ortiz, Faustin's reaction proves that tales of ordinary occurrences

Overview

When Faustin, the old Acoma, is given his first television set, he considers it a technical wonder, a box full of mystery. What he sees on its screen that first day, however, is even more startling than the television itself: men have landed on the moon. Can this be real? For Simon Ortiz, Faustin's reaction proves that tales of ordinary occurrences can truly touch the heart. "For me," he observes, "there's never been a conscious moment without story."

Best known for his poetry, Ortiz also has authored 26 short stories that have won the hearts of readers through the years. Men on the Moon brings these stories together—stories filled with memorable characters, written with love by a keen observer and interpreter of his people's community and culture. True to Native American tradition, these tales possess the immediacy—and intimacy—of stories conveyed orally. They are drawn from Ortiz's Acoma Pueblo experience but focus on situations common to Native people, whether living on the land or in cities, and on the issues that affect their lives. We meet Jimmo, a young boy learning that his father is being hunted for murder, and Kaiser, the draft refuser who always wears the suit he was given when he left prison. We also meet some curious Anglos: radicals supporting Indian causes, scholars studying Indian ways, and San Francisco hippies who want to become Indians too.

Whether telling of migrants working potato fields in Idaho and pining for their Arizona home or of a father teaching his son to fly a kite, Ortiz takes readers to the heart of storytelling. Men on the Moon shows that stories told by a poet especially resound with beauty and depth.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ortiz (After and Before the Lightning) is best known as a foremost contemporary Native American poet; his short fiction, written with a poetic emphasis on dense, potent language, is collected here for the first time. These 26 stories--penned between the late '60s and the early '80s--demonstrate the diversity of Native experience in modern America. Speaking in homage to, and solidarity with, his own Acoma Pueblo heritage, the author depicts American Indians in a wide range of social and geographic settings, from reservations to urban landscape. Many tales are melancholy, as they trace the fates of maligned, misunderstood and often visionary characters. In the title story, an aged Pueblo man watches television for the first time, sees astronauts walk on the moon and senses a sudden, irreversible loss of mystery. A young war widow takes a job at an Indian boarding school and must say good-bye to family and friends in the short "Home Country." Another tale, set in Oklahoma, juxtaposes generations in another way, as two brothers listen to an old drunk tell the story of Tecumseh's war; they know that Indians today need a new vision of themselves, another story that can build a powerful Indian identity. A sense of gentleness and wonder pervades the piece in which a father builds his son his first kite and watches the boy's exhilaration. The language of these rich narratives reflect both Ortiz's poetic gift and his intimate knowledge of oral storytelling. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
In this collection of 26 short stories, Ortiz, best known for his poetry (Going for the Rain), again carries his readers to the worlds of the Pueblo, whether on the reservation or in cities, VA hospitals, or boarding schools. The stories are about the land and about those who are or are not a part of the land. In the moving "To Change Life in a Good Way," a Pueblo couple's spirituality helps an Okie couple cope with grief. "What Indians Do" and "You Were Real, the White Radical Said to Me" are stories about the power of storytelling itself. A native of the Acoma Pueblo, Ortiz has taught writing at numerous universities and colleges throughout the country. These short stories were originally published in Howbah Indians (1978) and Fightin': New and Collected Stories (1983).--Mary Margaret Benson, Linfield Coll. Lib., McMinnville, OR Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Peter Skinner
Proud and deeply aware of his Acoma Pueblo heritage, Ortiz writes with hidden craft; the stories spill out easily and casually...these stories linger in memory and grow in weight.
ForeWord
Kirkus Reviews
Ortiz, a member of the Acoma tribe of the Southwest, is best known as a prolific and highly original poet, but he has also, since the 1960s, been publishing short stories, his three collections now gathered in one volume. They share with his poetry the measured, precise cadence of oral tales and are leavened equally with sorrowful anger and with baffled wit at the ways of the "Mericanos." In the title story, an old man contemplates with astonishment the journey of the Apollo astronauts to the moon. When told that they are journeying there for knowledge, he wonders whether "they have run out of places to look for knowledge on the earth." In "Something's Going On," a young boy discovers why his father, now a fugitive, had warned him that white men "haven't taken enough yet" from Indians: "They want more. They want our spirits, our hearts, our lives. They are so empty. They are so hungry." In "What Indians Do," the narrator posits an idea essential to all of Ortiz's work: that the songs and tales of a people both preserve their knowledge and sustain them. Some of the tales seem, necessarily, somewhat dated, while others are too short, or too terse, to build up much impact. All of them, though, exhibit Ortiz's considerable vigor and demonstrate his influence on the many Native American writers who have emerged since he began publishing.

From the Publisher
"The language of these rich narratives reflect both Ortiz's poetic gift and his intimate knowledge of oral storytelling" —Publishers Weekly

"Informed by a vision of Native American reclamation, Ortiz's writing is always political, usually humorous, at times poignant. . . . These collected stories are ample evidence that Ortiz is not only an accomplished Acoma poet but also a skilled writer of short fiction." —Western American Literature

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780816519293
Publisher:
University of Arizona Press
Publication date:
07/01/1999
Series:
Sun Tracks
Pages:
216
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 8.75(h) x (d)

Meet the Author

Poet, fiction writer, essayist, and storyteller Simon Ortiz is a native of Acoma Pueblo and is the author of numerous books.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >