cover image Men on the Moon: Collected Short Stories

Men on the Moon: Collected Short Stories

Simon J. Ortiz, Author University of Arizona Press $35 (216p) ISBN 978-0-8165-1929-3

Ortiz (After and Before the Lightning) is best known as a foremost contemporary Native American poet; his short fiction, written with a poetic emphasis on dense, potent language, is collected here for the first time. These 26 stories--penned between the late '60s and the early '80s--demonstrate the diversity of Native experience in modern America. Speaking in homage to, and solidarity with, his own Acoma Pueblo heritage, the author depicts American Indians in a wide range of social and geographic settings, from reservations to urban landscape. Many tales are melancholy, as they trace the fates of maligned, misunderstood and often visionary characters. In the title story, an aged Pueblo man watches television for the first time, sees astronauts walk on the moon and senses a sudden, irreversible loss of mystery. A young war widow takes a job at an Indian boarding school and must say good-bye to family and friends in the short ""Home Country."" Another tale, set in Oklahoma, juxtaposes generations in another way, as two brothers listen to an old drunk tell the story of Tecumseh's war; they know that Indians today need a new vision of themselves, another story that can build a powerful Indian identity. A sense of gentleness and wonder pervades the piece in which a father builds his son his first kite and watches the boy's exhilaration. The language of these rich narratives reflect both Ortiz's poetic gift and his intimate knowledge of oral storytelling. (Sept.)