Southwest Book Reviews

Some writers have the gift of channeling living breathing people in their fictional characters. Charles Dickens and J. D. Salinger did. So does Sherman Alexie.

Arnold Spirit is the star of Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Arnold is a charismatic underdog. Born with water on the brain, he lisps; he stutters. Cute in a little kid, but in junior high, it qualifies you for membership in the Black-Eye-of- the-Month Club. Arnold says, "Everybody on the rez calls me a retard about twice a day."

Day out of Days

Aug 13, 2010

A man's walking along, sees a head in a ditch. The head has a Medusa hairdo black-matted snaky locks. It is, of course, a talking head. A quarrelsome, weepy, head, and the man's a curmudgeon. The head needs a lift, and the man reluctantly picks it up. It gets heavy as he goes along. Weighs a ton.

For her July Southwest Book Review Ann Cummins recommends a romantic summer novel set at the Grand Canyon. In her fifth book, Flagstaff novelist, river-runner, and hiking guide Margaret Erhart, teases her readers about the sweet silliness of human affairs in the face of nature's magnitude.

It's hard to know where to start in naming the ways I admire Seth Mueller's Keepers of the Wind Claw Chronicles. The second book in his fantasy series for young adults just came out. The Day of Storms. In the first book, Ellie Tsosie, a young Navajo girl, fulfills an ancient prophesy. She discovers The Mockingbird's Manual, which holds the key to understanding the language of birds. The birds tell her she has been chosen for a difficult mission: She must try to bring humans into harmony with the animal kingdom.

Murl Emery wore many hats including beaver trapper, cattle rustler, bootlegger, ferryman, prospector, truck driver, inventor, miner, aviator and mechanic. But he was best known as the lead boatman during the construction of Hoover Dam. For this month's Southwest Book Review, Ann Cummins reviews Robert Wood's biography of Emery called Desert Riverman.

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