All My Sins Are Relatives

W. S. Penn, Author University of Nebraska Press $30 (257p) ISBN 978-0-8032-3709-4
Penn, an associate professor of English at Michigan State and a novelist (The Absence of Angels), shares his thoughts on his mixed-blood Anglo and Native American heritage in these well-crafted literary essays. Born to a white mother and a father who descended from the Nez Perce and Osage Indians, Penn endured a childhood shaped largely by his father's shame about his Native American heritage and his abusive mother's hatred of all things Indian (they eventually divorced). In ``Dreaming,'' Penn tells how, torn between two cultures and suffering from prejudicial treatment by teachers and other adults, he pursued an Indian way of removing himself spiritually from pain. In another piece, ``Respect for Wendy Rose,'' Penn writes about early American Indian literature based on oral traditions, and about the current trends in Native American writing. In other, very personal pieces, Penn deals with the loving but uneasy relationship he has had with his Indian grandfather and his application for conscientious-objector status during the Vietnam War. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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