cover image Firesticks: A Collection of Stories

Firesticks: A Collection of Stories

Diane Glancy. University of Oklahoma Press, $14.95 (142pp) ISBN 978-0-8061-2490-2

In her uniformly excellent collection, the fifth book in the American Indian Literature and Critical Studies series edited by Gerald Vizenor, Glancy ( Brown Wolf Leaves the Res ) offers 19 stories, most previously unpublished. The modern-day Native Americans presented here are far from the romanticized Indians of popular imagination: they suffer post-traumatic stress syndrome, go to church, work in diners and at times seem almost indistinguishable from anyone else in the dominant culture. All of them are dreamers. Louis wants to be ``The First Indian Pilot,'' although he is color-blind; the heroine of the title story (spread out in installments throughout the book) yearns to escape a small, dreary Oklahoma town; the unnamed old woman in ``Polar Breath'' dreams of and longs for her dead husband. Primarily known as a poet, Glancy invests her prose with tremendous emotional resonance, celebrating the importance of language in tales that often seem more like poems than conventional short stories. Herself of Cherokee descent, she gives powerful voice to a colonized people striving to live with integrity in the midst of the culture that overpowered their ancestors. ( Mar. )