Hogan's report of pain and injury comes to us from a deeply disturbing place....Her bravery leaves us standing in silence.
It reminds us who we are, where we have been, where we are going.
A deeply courageous account of Hogan's personal and tribal history...staggering.
[A] brilliant, harrowing account of illness and healing, by one of our best writers.
In a book that is part autobiography, part meditation using Native American themes and images, Hogan, an articulate woman of the Chicasaw tribe in Oklahoma, lets readers glimpse her world. "I sat down to write about pain and wrote, instead, about healing, history, and survival." Hogan had experiences in two cultures. She lived in Germany when her father was in the military during the 1960s. She worked at a Native American center in Denver, where she adopted two deeply troubled girls who had been abandoned by their mother. Unusual in Native Americans doing personal writing, she was part of the government's disastrous experiment to move her people from the reservations to cities where, presumably, they would have better access to services. She disparages the education she received, but it clearly honed her writing skills and gave her knowledge that has proved enriching and useful to her. This is a complex, sensitive book. Hogan alternates stories of family with meditations on themes such as yearning for healing and wholeness, family, traditions, connectedness, love, mythology, lessons drawn from nature, especially water, and symbols. Her emotions are colored by the painful history of her people, chased without provisions from Tennessee and Mississippi to Oklahoma, and then charged by the government for moving costs. Her youth was exceptionally difficult, distorted by a mother who was distant, mentally ill. She tells of knowing Native Americans demoralized by the accumulation of legal, economic, and personal problems. She sees them caught up in a maelstrom of despair, victims of a history of being uprooted, their often self-destructive reactions "an escape from the pain of an Americanhistory." She views their alcoholism as a kind of self medication for the grief they have endured during the process of the forcible destruction of their way of life and culture and white failure to follow their own stated principles. There is much sadness in Hogan's story. Her life has been full of tragedy and dislocation, even illness, as fibromyalgia has sapped her strength. Although she judges herself "a failure at faith," she determines to reach upward and outward. Readers will be moved by her talent for language and will gain perceptive insights into the Native American experience. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Norton, 208p., Boardman
Hogan, a Chicksaw poet, novelist, essayist, and author of ten previous books, recounts the development of her American Indian identity, her difficult childhood as the daughter of an army sergeant, her love affair at the age of 12 with an older man, and the troubled history of the two daughters she adopted. Revealing how historic and emotional pain are passed down through generations, she blends personal history with stories of important Indian figures of the past such as Lozen, the woman who was the military strategist for Geronimo, and Ohiyesha, the medical doctor who witnessed the massacre at Wounded Knee. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The Chickasaw poet and novelist Hogan (Power, 1998) offers a personal and family memoir that is neither poem nor novel, but more like a series of journal entries. The snippets, as it were, of Hogan's life are extraordinarily revealing, telling of a relationship with an older man that beganwith her parents' acceptancewhen she was only 12, of her years of drunkenness, of the tragic failure to heal the deep psychic scars of her two adopted daughters (love "isn't always enough," she notes), of the debilitating pain and sleeplessness caused by her own fibromylagia, of amnesia caused by a fall from a horse. Her story is interwoven with stories of the pain, despair, and anger of Native Americans, and tales of heroes like Ohiyesa (a doctor at Wounded Knee) and Lozen (an Apache woman warrior and healer). And into the tapestry also go threads of reflections on the power of water ("perhaps the best place to find ourselves"), from the Atlantic Ocean to an Alaskan glacier; on spirits in the tribal pantheons, including the Mexican guardian of the title; and on the importance of the bones of the dead. One of the most intriguing thoughts is touched on in the last chapter, a discussion of the phenomenon of phantom pain spun into thoughts on phantom lands and phantom memory. Interspersed also are moving sketches of animal encounters, highlighted by the stillbirth of a wild mustang foal. Natureand the sad loss of the relationship between humans and the land as well as its destructionis an undercurrent throughout. Hogan calls on both western legend and Native American myth to make many of her points. A hopscotch of scenes, unsatisfying in part because so many powerful story ideas goundeveloped.