cover image The West Pole

The West Pole

Diane Glancy. University of Minnesota Press, $18.95 (216pp) ISBN 978-0-8166-2894-0

Glancy, the Cherokee author of the recent novel Pushing the Bear and the North American Indian Prose Award-winning essay collection, Claiming Breath, is a refreshing voice in these times of anger-filled Native American literature. Deftly blending Indian beliefs and mythology with European Christianity she forms a more unified view of America than is expressed in the ""us vs. them"" ideology of many Native writers. ""I am only trying to walk in both worlds,"" she explains in one of her pieces. As fresh as this sentiment is, it doesn't make up for the unevenness of a collection that encompasses seemingly meaningless prose poems and genuinely clever short essays. The writing is similarly variable, with enjoyable well-written passages standing in jarring contrast to others that are unnecessarily obtuse. What unifies the book is the ""West Pole,"" the metaphorical end-of-the-line that Glancy confronts whether writing about the controversial issue of who can rightfully call themselves ""Native American"" or comparing the film Thelma and Louise to Christopher Columbus's inexorable voyage. Ultimately, this volume reads more like a diary than an assemblage of pieces written for publication, and is at best only sporadically rewarding. Photos. (Mar.)