How Should I Read These?

How Should I Read These?: Native Women Writers in Canada

HELEN HOY
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442675896
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  • Book Info
    How Should I Read These?
    Book Description:

    Drawing on postcolonial, feminist, poststructuralist, and First Nations theory, Hoy raises and addresses questions around ?difference? in relation to texts by contemporary Native women prose writers in Canada.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7589-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-31)

    In ʹQueen of the North,ʹ a short story by Haisla-Heiltsuk writer Eden Robinson, Adelaine, a disaffected Haisla teenager, has to contend with the familiarities of a white powwow spectator, hungry for sexual and cultural stimulation. Eyeing her bare legs and arms, subjecting her to a sequence of increasingly personal questions, Arnold slaps down one twenty-dollar bill after another to enforce his desire for bannock, after the booth where Adelaine is volunteering has closed down:

    I handed him the plate and bowed. I expected him to leave then, but he bowed back and said, ʹthank you.ʹ

    ʹNo,ʹ I said. ʹThank you....

  5. 1 ʹReading from the Inside Outʹ: Jeannette Armstrongʹs Slash
    (pp. 32-47)

    The novelSlash(1985), by Okanagan writer Jeannette Armstrong, was written to convey the spirit of the 1960s and 1970s Native movement to First Nations readers by tracing the emotional, political, and spiritual turmoil of a young Okanagan man, Tommy Kelasket or Slash.¹ In its assumptions and aesthetics (issues of verisimilitude, of individualized characterization, of narrative structure and plotting, of rhetorical aims and strategies), the novel seems to insist upon its own cultural tradition and to resist quite dramatically the imposition of extraneous literary and critical criteria. Not readily assimilable into a Western literary tradition, the book necessitates a confrontation...

  6. 2 ʹWhen You Admit Youʹre a Thiefʹ: Maria Campbell and Linda Griffithsʹs The Book of Jessica
    (pp. 48-63)

    A subject much argued in Canadian literary circles is the question of the use of Native materials by non-Native authors. This raises by implication the question of whether non-Native readings of Native texts similarly (necessarily?) do epistemological and cultural violence to them.¹ Is teaching and criticism of these texts by non-Natives another form of cultural appropriation?The Book of Jessica(1989), a collaborative effort by Métis-Cree writer Maria Campbell and Scottish-Canadian actress/playwright Linda Griffiths, provides detailed ground for an investigation of these issues. The book concludes with a script of the playJessica. Preceding that, it uses a framing narrative...

  7. 3 ʹListen to the Silenceʹ: Ruby Slipperjackʹs Honour the Sun
    (pp. 64-80)

    Honour the Sun(1987) by Ojibway author Ruby Slipperjack traces in diary format six years of changes in its young protagonist and her small northern Ontario community. In the opening dialogue of the novel, Bobby asks the ten-year-old narrator, Owl, and her friend, his sister Sarah, ʹWhat are you guys laughing at?ʹ¹ The reply anticipates not only a recurring mode of response within the Ojibway community depicted, but also the novelʹs characteristic narrative stance: ʹSarah giggles and shakes her head. ʺNothingʺʹ (9). ʹNothingʹ: an evasion of direct communication, which makes no effort to obscure the possibility of something to be...

  8. 4 ʹNothing but the Truthʹ: Beatrice Culletonʹs In Search of April Raintree
    (pp. 81-104)

    In Search of April Raintree(1983), by Métis writer Beatrice Culleton, explores, through a first-person voice, the maturation of two Métis sisters contending with a racist society and its messages. Early critical responses to the novel, situating it in terms of its simplicity, honesty, authenticity, and artlessness, implicitly separate testimonial immediacy and artistic craft, assigning uncrafted testimony to the ʹNative informant.ʹ¹ Several reviews paradoxically locate the novelʹs art precisely in its artlessness: ʹan earnest, artless journal-cum-fiction that is all the more powerful for its simplicityʹ (Moher 50) and ʹirritatingly naïve at times, but a more sophisticated style would rob it...

  9. 5 ʹAnd Use the Words That Were Hersʹ: Beverly Hungry Wolfʹs The Ways of My Grandmothers
    (pp. 105-126)

    One of the photographs inThe Ways of My Grandmothers(1980) shows Beverly Hungry Wolf turned away from the camera, her overexposed facial features barely discernible against the washed-out sky. She displays a carefully beaded cradleboard on her back, in which she is carrying a child. ʹMe and my son Okan in his cradleboardʹ the caption begins; it moves away from Hungry Wolf, however, for the next three sentences, to explain the ways in which earlier tribal women employed cradleboards (97). The photograph is representative of the book in that it focuses on something other than Hungry Wolf herself. What...

  10. 6 ʹBecause You Arenʹt Indianʹ: Lee Maracleʹs Ravensong
    (pp. 127-152)

    InNations without Nationalism, Julia Kristeva describes ʹthe cult of origins,ʹ the defensive human withdrawal into a ʹsullen, warm private world, unnameable and biological, the impregnable ʺaloofnessʺ of a weird primal paradise – family, ethnicity, nation, raceʹ (2,3).¹ ʹ[T]he soil, the blood, and the genius of the languageʹ that Kristeva considers the roots of a xenophobic national idea (40) are precisely the connections on which many First Nations peoples draw in resisting colonization. How does one reinvent oneself and oneʹs connections in ways that avoid reductive and exclusionary allegiances? What does it mean to be a nation or, in less...

  11. 7 ʹHow Should I Eat These?ʹ Eden Robinsonʹs Traplines
    (pp. 153-182)

    Traplines, a collection of three short stories and a novella by British Columbia Haisla-Heiltsuk writer Eden Robinson, appeared in 1996 with some fanfare, including advertisements touting her as the ʹJ.D. Salinger for the millenniumʹ and aNew York Timesreview dubbing her a ʹGeneration X laureateʹ (Marcus 21).² In contrast with virtually all the fiction published by Native writers in Canada, most ofTraplinesdoes not overtly feature Native characters or focus on Native communities. A Native context can (but need not) be inferred for the first, title story, with its contrast between the world of the protagonist, Will, and...

  12. In/conclusion
    (pp. 183-202)

    At a literary reading in St Paul, Minnesota, in the early 1990s, Leslie Silko (Laguna Pueblo) described a plant growing in the desert that feeds on radioactivity and converts it into harmless matter. She celebrated the plant as a corrective to the human arrogance that would insist upon our capacity for planetary destruction, ignoring the regenerative power of the natural world. I am reminded of her argument when I think over my anxieties around potential cultural violation of the Native texts that I am studying inHow Should I Read These? The texts are more resilient than I imagine, proliferating...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 203-230)
  14. Works Cited
    (pp. 231-250)
  15. Index
    (pp. 251-264)