Native American Fiction: A User's Manual

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9781555974527: Native American Fiction: A User's Manual

An entirely new approach to reading, understanding, and enjoying Native American fiction

This book has been written with the narrow conviction that if Native American literature is worth thinking about at all, it is worth thinking about as literature. The vast majority of thought that has been poured out onto Native American literature has puddled, for the most part, on how the texts are positioned in relation to history or culture.

Rather than create a comprehensive cultural and historical genealogy for Native American literature, David Treuer investigates a selection of the most important Native American novels and, with a novelist's eye and a critic's mind, examines the intricate process of understanding literature on its own terms.

Native American Fiction: A User's Manual is speculative, witty, engaging, and written for the inquisitive reader. These essays―on Sherman Alexie, Forrest Carter, James Fenimore Cooper, Louise Erdrich, Leslie Marmon Silko, and James Welch―are rallying cries for the need to read literature as literature and, ultimately, reassert the importance and primacy of the word.

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From the Inside Flap:

"In these crisp, sharp-edged essays David Treuer dares to question the usefulness, let alone the validity, of the term ‘Native American Fiction.’ There’s an inherent contradiction there, he argues. Fiction consists of words in certain arrangements based on existing conventions and personal style. ‘Native American’ names a communal identity that exists, if at all, apart from actual works of fiction. Writing out of his own experience as a novelist, a critic, a teacher—and as an Ojibwe on familiar terms with his native language—Treuer is unrelenting in showing how questions of identity interfere with the business of reading what's there. Novels are mechanisms or contraptions made of words, things with moving parts, and readers are users. They can use a good, legible manual. Treuer’s particular readings of works by Silko, Erdrich, Welch, and Alexie are brilliant, respectful, and uncompromising. The book may raise some eyebrows and probably some hackles but all concerned will be the better for it." —Alan Trachtenberg, Neil Grey, Jr. Professor Emeritus of English Yale University

About the Author:

DAVID TREUER is Ojibwe from the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. He is the award-winning author of two previous novels, Little and The Hiawatha. He teaches literature and creative writing at the University
of Minnesota.

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