From 2001 through the present I've spent some time in native communities - researching books, working with school kids, interviewing elders and people who are advocates of native language and culture. This certainly hasn't been a full time occupation, but it's been enough time to change my outlook on a few things, and to inform some of my writing. I've become a better listener. I also blow off some stuff after taking time to think about it. Hmmm.
This week I read the Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I'd heard it was good and it won the National Book Award, after all. But award winners aren't always my first choice in reading. But this was a good decision. I really loved the book. It rang true and although sometimes the character seemed as stylized as the cartoons in the book, I loved the experience of reading it, and of stepping into someone else's world through this funny/sad/crazy novel.
Rewind to a couple of years ago when I got an Amazon message telling me I should order Eagle Blue. It is a non-fiction documentation of the Ft. Yukon Alaska High School basketball team's try to win the State Championship. I knew how committed some of the Indian kids I've met are to basketball, so I ordered it. I have to say, I didn't finish the book and I can't find it now. I think I gave it to someone - but not before I'd read a few chapters while I was traveling and not before my husband, who doesn't read much, read it. If you like sports and if you want another portrait of life in a native community, pick this one up too. It's by Michael D'Orsy, 2006. I wish I could find it to finish. Never expect to finish a book while you are traveling - at least if you are me.