Off the Reservation: Reflections on Boundary-Busting, Border-Crossing Loose Cannons

Paula Gunn Allen, Author, Tisha Hooks, Editor Beacon Press (MA) $25 (262p) ISBN 978-0-8070-4640-1
While most prior efforts in the genre of the Indian professorial essay collection have drifted between incomprehensible and fanatical, this book from Allen (The Sacred Hoop), of Laguna Pueblo and Lebanese ancestry, is most often even-keeled (if on occasion overwrought: ""Let me remind all of us that vegetarianism inevitably accompanies misogyny, racism, tyranny, gynocide, and infanticide""). As with most collections of the sort, the content is all over the map, from rape and misogyny, to criticism of literary criticism, to personal recollections and family ancestry, to an overview of Native spirituality. Even in this broad perspective, there seems to be a unifying theme. Allen best describes this cohesion when she states in the foreword, ""Spanning thirty years, from the late sixties to the late nineties, each essay is, in its own way, an assertion that Indians are everywhere."" There is some really compelling writing here, as in ""Radiant Beings"" and the whole last section, ""La Frontera/Na(rra)tives."" General readers will no doubt stumble through the middle section, titled ""Wyrds/Orthographies,"" but the injection of Native sensibilities in every article takes this literate collection beyond the usual intellectual exercise. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1998
Release date: 11/01/1998
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