Sunday, May 19, 2013

Our May Author: David Treuer


Watch Writer David Treuer on PBS. See more from Tavis Smiley.

This month we are reading Rez Life: An Indian's Journey Through Reservation Life by David Treuer. You can start to get to know the author at his website davidtreuer.com. Here are a few more tips:

The 12 minute video above serves as a good intro to the book. You can also listen to Treuer discuss the book on Talk of the Nation and while you are on the NPR site follow-up with this 2008 Fresh Air interview with this brother Anton about Ojibwe language preservation, a favorite topic here at Rights Readers.  Slate also has a good audio interview about the book plus  a series he wrote in 2009 about Indian casinos.

In this Los Angeles Review of Books interview, Treuer talks about the book's balance of memoir, journalism and history, and fiction vs. nonfiction,
A lot of my fiction was trying to destabilize our thinking about Native people. The confidence with which people said we meant this or that. I wanted to wreck that confidence (with my novels). But with Rez Life I wanted to see what a good hard look at power would do to our ideas. Why do reservations exist? Why do we have casinos? When exactly did that happen? Why? Where and when did boarding schools exist? Why are there so many Indian kids not living with their parents? What do reservations mean? How did they get to be the way they are? So the nonfictionness of Rez Lifeis meant to help answer those questions. What can we see if we look closely? What can we see if we look carefully? What happens when I strip away all surface style? What happens to our vision then? Ironically — I think we see much more of the plurality, the multiplicity, the fecundity, the sheer range of Indian life. It isn’t one thing. Or two things. Indian life is blessedly diverse and complex and vibrant. That’s what life is after all — multiplying forms. And that, above all, is what I was trying to show: life gets bigger the more you look at it, the more you live it.
Our resident language geeks might want to check out this 2009 On Being story and this essay in the Washington Post. And from the NYT, here are some tips from Treuer on planning your canoe trip in Ojibwe country.

Finally, if you're curious about Treuer's fiction, you can get a taste from this reading. It had me intrigued!

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