I first met Barbara Robidoux in an on-line class at writers.com. We live near-by each other in Santa Fe, and I’ve always enjoyed her tales of chickens and beekeeping in the city. Miriam’s Well published her second book of poetry, and her work appears in most issues of “The Santa Fe Literary Review.” I’ve learned a lot from her about poetic prose, how ancient Japanese forms become contemporary, and ways of storytelling. Here is her new book!
Sweetgrass Burning: Stories from the Rez is a collection of linked short stories that transports readers into the lives of Indians who live at Northpoint, a fictional reservation in Northeastern Maine. The reader is invited to participate in everyday events which confront this community, as well as struggles against corporate interests to take over tribal land for profit (LNG), the opening and rapid closing of a tribal Bingo hall, and the revenge of three elder ladies (The Snoop Sisters) who cast their humor and rage against prejudiced neighbors in a non-Indian town which borders the rez. Characters open their hearts to tell us sometimes angry and often humorous stories of what it takes to stand by their culture and language in the face of state and federal government pressure to assimilate. In Northpoint, population 800, you’ll meet Dous, the Snoop Sisters, Molly, Gregory, Ricky, all irresistibly-interesting members of this tribal community and get wrapped up in these characters, but even more wrapped up in the plot. “Barbara Robidoux is a master storyteller. With ease, she weaves together the connections of Native people who have long known one another and their ancestors. The North Point Reserve is a community with open doors, the people inviting us in to feed us their stories. Inside each person’s words is their life as it was in recent years. We travel this map of reservation lives, recognizing the people. Their dwelling places become located in our own hearts. This incredible writer takes us on her journey of humanity and mystery. Along the way, the stories come together with her brilliance, her seeming ease of style. Robidoux has the unique ability to reveal all our strong and broken ways of being in this world.” -Linda Hogan author of Dark Sweet, Power, Dwellings, Solar Storms, People of the Whale, The Woman Who Watches Over the World. In SWEETGRASS BURNING Barbara Robidoux introduces you to characters so lovable and human you’ll quickly come to call them family. Navigating the fictional setting of the Northpoint reservation in northeast Maine, Robidoux’s linked stories powerfully show a community surviving through humor, compassion, cooperation and tradition. – Chip Livingston, author of Crow-Blue, Crow Black and Naming Ceremony Sweetgrass smoke and winter storms haunt Barbara Robidoux’s stories. Fierce, yet tender, her characters’ struggles with tragic legacies and invasive industries will touch your heart and bring you to the rez in all its complicated, generous glory. – Eden Robinson, author of Traplines, Monkey Beach and others.
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