The Bird is Gone: A Manifesto
Stephen Graham Jones University of Alabama Press, 2003 Library of Congress PS3560.O5395B57 2003 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Imagine a world where the American government signed a conservation act to "restore all indigenous flora and fauna to the Great Plains," which means suddenly the Great Plains are Indian again. Now fast-forward fourteen years to a bowling alley deep in the Indian Territories. People that bowling alley with characters named LP Deal, Cat Stand, Mary Boy, Courtney Peltdowne, Back Iron, Denim Horse, Naitche, and give them a chance to find a treaty signed under duress by General Sherman, which effectively gives all of the Americas back to the Indians, only hide that treaty in a stolen pipe, put it in a locker, and flush the key down the toilet. Ask LP Deal and the rest what they will trade to get that key back--maybe, everything.
The Fast Red Road—A Plainsong is a novel which plunders, in a gleeful, two-fisted fashion, the myth and pop-culture surrounding the American Indian. It is a story fueled on pot fumes and blues, borrowing and distorting the rigid conventions of the traditional western. Indians, cowboys, and outlaws are as interchangeable as their outfits; men strike poses from Gunsmoke, and horses are traded for Trans-Ams. Pidgin, the half-blood protagonist, inhabits a world of illusion—of aliens, ghosts, telekinesis, and water-pistol violence—where television offers redemption, and "the Indian always gets it up the ass."
Having escaped the porn factories of Utah, Pidgin heads for Clovis, NM to bury his father, Cline. But the body is stolen at the funeral, and Pidgin must recover it. With the aid of car thief Charlie Ward, he criscrosses a wasted New Mexico, straying through bars, junkyards, and rodeos, evading the cops, and tearing through barriers "Dukestyle." "Charlie Ward slid his thin leather belt from his jeans and held it out the window, whipping the cutlass faster, faster, his dyed black hair unbraiding in the fifty mile per hour wind, and they never stopped for gas." Along the way, Pidgin escapes a giant coyote, survives a showdown with Custer, and encounters the remnants of the Goliard Tribe—a group of radicals to which Cline belonged.
Pidgin's search allows him to reconcile the death of his father with five hundred years of colonial myth-making, and will eventually place him in a position to rewrite history. Jones tells his tale in lean, poetic prose. He paints a bleak, fever-burnt west—a land of strip-joints, strip-malls, and all you can eat beef-fed-beef stalls, where the inhabitants speak a raw, disposable lingo. His vision is dark yet frighteningly recognizable. In the tradition of Gerald Vizenor's Griever, The Fast Red Road—A Plainsong blazes a trail through the puppets and mirrors of myth, meeting the unexpected at every turn, and proving that the past—the texture of the road—can and must be changed.
Stephen Graham Jones University of Alabama Press, 2008 Library of Congress PS3560.O5395L43 2008 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
After burning up the blacktop in New Mexico with The Fast Red Road and rewriting Indian history on the Great Plains with The Bird is Gone, Stephen Graham Jones now takes us to Montana. Set on a Blackfeet Indian reservation, the life of one Indian boy, Doby Saxon, is laid bare through the eyes of those who witness it: his near-death experience, his suicide attempts, his brief glimpse of victory, and the unnecessary death of one of his best friends.
But through Doby there emerges a connection to the past, to an Indian Agent who served the United States Government over a century before. This revelation leads to another and another until it becomes clear that the decisions of this single Indian Agent have impacted the lives of generations of Blackfeet Indians. And the life of Doby Saxon, a boy standing in the middle of the road at night, his hands balled into fists, the reservation wheeling all around him like the whole of Blackfeet history hurtling towards him.
Jones’s beautifully complex novel is a story of life, death, love, and the ties that bind us not only to what has been, but what will be: the power of one moment, the weight of one decision, the inevitability of one outcome, and the price of one life.
Winner of the FC2 Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize
A darkly comical horror lurks beneath the surface of everyday events in Refrigerated Music for a Gleaming Woman, a seductively poetic story collection of unusual brilliance and rare humor.?
In Aimee Parkison’s Refrigerated Music for a Gleaming Woman, lovers find unexpected romance in cramped spaces, fast food addicts struggle through cheeseburger addiction, and the splendor of nature competes with the violence of television. All the while, a complicated and precarious present dawns onto a new world where wealthy women wear children’s eyes as jewelry and those in need of money hawk their faces only to forever mourn what parts of themselves they have sold to survive.
Open the refrigerator door. Inside are antique jars. Open them to hear the music: Beethoven playing piano; slaves singing for freedom in plantation fields; mothers humming lullabies through the night to smallpox babies, knowing this song is the last sound their children will ever hear.
As Stephen Graham Jones notes in his foreword to this prize-winning collection, “The best books . . . fold you into a darkness sparkling with life. They lock you in the refrigerator but they also pipe in some music that never repeats, and when the door starts to open, you cling tight to it, so you can have just a few minutes more. This book, it’ll be over far too fast for you, yes. But even were it five times as thick as it is now, it would still be too short. Remember, though, the best books, they’re loops. They never stop. This one still hasn’t, for me.”