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Friday, March 15, 2019

The Power Of Stories

Tommy Orange's debut There There (2018) is a novel I am sure will remain with me. Each chapter in parts one through three introduces four characters linked by family or some facet of their shared Native American culture. In part four, the author braids all twelve characters together in a tableau that reminded me of the Rashomon-like brilliance of two recent favorites: Mudbound (2008) by Hillary Jordan and The Maid's Version (2013) by Daniel Woodrell. There There is not quite as taut as The Maid's Version, but it packs an equivalent punch.

"If you have the option to not think about or even consider history, whether you learned it right or not, or whether it even deserves consideration, that's how you know you're on board the ship that serves hors d'oeuvres and fluffs your pillows while others are out at sea, swimming or drowning, or clinging to little inflatable rafts that they have to take turns to keep inflated, people short of breath, who've never even heard of the words hors d'oeuvres or fluff."

I'm glad to be living in an age when authors from every culture get to tell their stories. And I'm even happier these stories are widely available to those of us who want to hear them. I didn't hear these stories growing up, did you? If we'd heard at least a few of them, what might have shifted in the way we relate to people from cultures different than our own?

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