Remnants of the First Earth [NOOK Book]


Ray A. Young Bear's work has been called "magnificent" by The New York Times and "a national treasure" by Bloomsbury Review. Dazzlingly original, but with deep roots in his traditional Mesquakie culture, Young Bear is a master wordsmith poised with trickster-like aplomb between the ancient world of his forefathers and the ever-encroaching "blurred face of modernity".
Remnants of the First Earth continues the story of Edgar Bearchild -- Young Bear's fictionalized alter ego -- ...
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Remnants of the First Earth

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Ray A. Young Bear's work has been called "magnificent" by The New York Times and "a national treasure" by Bloomsbury Review. Dazzlingly original, but with deep roots in his traditional Mesquakie culture, Young Bear is a master wordsmith poised with trickster-like aplomb between the ancient world of his forefathers and the ever-encroaching "blurred face of modernity".
Remnants of the First Earth continues the story of Edgar Bearchild -- Young Bear's fictionalized alter ego -- which began with Black Eagle Child, a New York Times Notable Book for 1992. Young Bear revisits the Black Eagle Child Settlement and its residents, including Ted Facepaint, Rose Grassleggings, Junior Pipestar, Lorna Bearcap, and Luciano Bearchild. At the center of the novel is a murder investigation involving a powerful shaman holding court at the local Ramada Inn, negligent white cops from nearby Why Cheer, and corrupt tribal authorities. This lyrical narrative swirls through the present and into the mysteries of the age-old stories and myths that still haunt, inform, and enlighten this uniquely American community.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Narrated by the poetic and perceptive Edgar Principal Bear, alter ego of author Young Bear, this impressive first novel relates the struggles of the Native Americans living in the Black Eagle Child Settlement in Iowa. The author thus continues a story begun in his fictionalized autobiography Black Eagle Child: The Facepaint Narratives. Life in the Black Eagle Child Settlement is so permeated with ancient myths and traditions it seems timeless; for example, a rape and murder that occurred over a century ago still has a powerful impact on the community. The "first Earth" of the title refers to the epoch of the "Supernaturals," which existed before the current era. Continuation of this "second Earth" depends upon the Natives remaining faithful to the tenets of the Principal Religion, and upon their performing its ceremonies. Now, however, the people are growing lax, seduced by the "`income-generating architecture'" of casino gambling. The world is slipping out of balance and its very survival is at stake. The key may rest with Edgar, the keeper of the sacred Journals of the Six Grandfathers, 22 tattered notebooks of tribal history, lore and prophecy. Young Bear's prose pulses with lyrical ferocity, blending narrative, verse and tribal myth in a seamless web. He writes as one deeply familiar with Native tribal existence and committed to its survival, but he is unafraid to assault readers' senses and preconceptions. Young Bear, an acclaimed poet, here emerges as a major Native novelist. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Set against Edgar Bearchild's investigation into the murder of a childhood friend, noted poet Young Bear's (Black Eagle Child, LJ 3/15/92) first novel lyrically describes Bearchild's memories while detailing his tribe's suffering and its struggle to hold on to a fading tribal culture. Young Bear continues the largely autobiographical narrative of Edgar Bearchild, begun in his poems, continuing to blend the natural with the supernatural, prose with verse, and Native American myths with a strong oral storytelling tradition. Young Bear's work does express grief and anger over the role of whites in this loss to the fictional Black Eagle Child people, but he also reflects on the tribe's failure to see and react adequately to the signals of this eventual fading: "loss of language, despondent youth amid unimaginable poverty, and the blurred face of modernity." Recommended.-Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon, Eugene
Dr. Francis
Dr. Lee Francis, National Director of Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers
Remnants of the First Earth is a powerful work which holds the reader spellbound from start to finish. Young Bear's writing presents vivid images in his 'ever circling stories' which takes the reader on an unforgettable journey from the ancient ways of the Mesquakie to the world of today. Remnants of the First Earth should be on the bookshelf of everyone interested in writings about Native America by Native writers.
Kirkus Reviews
A continuation of native American poet Young Bear's exuberant fictionalized memoirs, begun in Black Eagle Child (1992), featuring the further remarkable adventures and recollections of the writer Edgar Bearchild.

This is not so much a sequel to that earlier work as another (and even more ambitious) take on the themes explored in the first volume, once again using first-person narrative, letters, and poetry to trace Bearchild's life growing up in the 1960s and '70s on the Black Eagle Child Settlement in Iowa. "Knowledge was the real issue," the adult Bearchild, a controversial poet, reflects at one point, "knowledge needed by the next generation to facilitate their spiritual passage," and there's no doubt that a part of what Young Bear (a member of the Mesquakie tribe) is doing is to preserve a portrait of the rich, complex spirituality of his people, and of the way in which it penetrates every aspect of Native American life. Bearchild's often comic collisions with tribal folklore (which his family is determined, whether he likes it or not, that he should learn) deftly make plain the central role that a reverence for the past plays in maintaining the tribe's identity. He's also interested in tracing the ways in which this heritage is filtered through an individual's imagination, and transformed. Bearchild's life on and off the reservation is variously rendered as a mock epic, a spiritual quest, and a seriocomic adventure. There's also considerable anger here. As Bearchild notes, when reflecting on the current fascination with all things native, many Indians still regard white society as a "master mouse-catching cat race that sadistically maimed its aboriginal prey for entertainment."

Out of an idiosyncratic mix of folktales, rowdy adventures, and religious imagery, Young Bear has fashioned a powerful, utterly distinctive, and unsettling portrait of Native American life. It is one of the most interesting (and audacious) ongoing projects in American letters.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802195883
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/1/2007
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • File size: 3 MB

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