Before the Reading: Oscar Hokeah, *Calling for a Blanket Dance*
peripheral narrators, probing cultural redemption narratives & the idea of a "cure," indigenous systems of descent
Today I want to remind any readers/students that novelist Oscar Hokeah will be reading for the UA Distinguished Visiting Writing series, featuring work from his novel, Calling for a Blanket Dance. You can attend the virtual event by tuning in to Zoom at 7:00 PM, tomorrow, Thursday 4/6.
Some thoughts/questions I have before the reading.
In this interview with MPR, Hokeah talks about the idea of “peripheral narration,” which allows the novelist to depict a complexity of communal awareness (some characters may be in on a secret, but not others, for instance). Hokeah mentions that this kind of structure allows his novel to take on a “familial, communal tone.” I want to listen for that structure and try to hear how familial polyphony is sounded out during the reading.
I’m also curious about the idea of being “cured” — in the same interview, Hokeah says that a central question in the novel is: will the grandson ever come back from the trauma that he’s witnessed? Can one be “cured” of patriarchal violence? What does “cure” mean for the narrator’s culture— for mine? Is the idea of a cure illusory?
I also have loosely-formed curiosity about different social/familial systems, in reflection of the indigenous systems of descent that Hokeah speaks about. He describes the Kiawa system as one of “bilateral descent …. the influence would be pretty balanced in that both the men and the women participate within the culture and have equal sway over the community members…”; he also references the matrilineal descent in Cherokee culture; of course, these stand in contrast to the societal structure of patriarchal descent prevalent in anglo USA. How can/to what end do these different systems collide in fiction?
I’ll try to return to these thoughts after Thursday (life/mental capacity allowing!).
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Well, toddler life, everyone-- wasn't able to make the reading. Bojan said it was incredible, though, so I'm begging him for a guest post. We'll see!