Why I Can't Read Wallace Stegner and Other Essays by Elizabeth Cook-Lynn
A Tribal Voice

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Synopsis

This provocative collection of essays reveals the passionate voice of a Native American feminist intellectual. Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, a poet and literary scholar, grapples with issues she encountered as a Native American in academia. She asks questions of critical importance to tribal people: who is telling their stories, where does cultural authority lie, and most important, how is it possible to develop an authentic tribal literary voice within the academic community? In the title essay, Why I Cant Read Wallace Stegner, Cook-Lynn objects to Stegners portrayal of the American West in his fiction, contending that no other author has been more successful in serving the interests of the nations fantasy about itself. When Stegner writes that Western history sort of stopped at 1890, and when he claims the American West as his native land, Cook-Lynn argues, he negates the whole past, present, and future of the native peoples of the continent. Her other essays include discussion of such Native American writers as Michael Dorris, Ray Young Bear, and N. Scott Momaday; the importance of a tribal voice in academia; the risks to American Indian women in current law practices; the future of Indian Nationalism; and the defense of the land. Cook-Lynn emphasizes that her essays move beyond the narrowly autobiographical, not just about gender and power, not just focused on multiculturalism and diversity, but are about intellectual and political issues that engage readers and writers in Native American studies. Studying the Indian, Cook-Lynn reminds us, is not just an academic exercise but a matter of survival for the lifeways of tribal peoples. Her goal in these essays is to open conversations that can make tribal life and academic life more responsive to one another.

 

About Elizabeth Cook-Lynn

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Elizabeth Cook-Lynn of the Crow Creek Sioux Nation is a writer, poet, and professor emerita of Native American studies at Eastern Washington University. Among her many honors is the Oyate Igluwitaya award given by Native university students in South Dakota to those who "aid in the ability of The People to see clearly in the company of each other.
 
Published September 1, 1996 by University of Wisconsin Press. 176 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Why I Can't Read Wallace Stegner and Other Essays

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Along the way she dismisses writers like John Updike, ``a white, male member of a prosperous and efficient Euro-American (i.e., white) capitalist democracy,'' and criticizes Michael Dorris, a mixed-blood, for having written negatively of the alcoholic Sioux mother of his adopted, brain-damaged son.

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The New York Times

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For instance, in a review of ''The Broken Cord,'' Michael Dorris's book about adopting an American Indian boy doomed by his mother's alcoholism, she takes Mr. Dorris to task for taking the boy away from his tribe and into a ''privileged'' world and for criticizing his ''blood mother'' for drinking.

Mar 16 1997 | Read Full Review of Why I Can't Read Wallace Steg...

Publishers Weekly

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As to the book's title: ""Stegner's attitude is, without question, the pervasive attitude of white midwesterners whose ancestors marched into a moral void and then created through sheer will the morality that allowed them, much the same way that the contemporary white Dutch South Africans marched...

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