Joy Harjo: Crazy Brave


Poet Joy Harjo is one of today’s foremost Native American voices; her recently-published memoir was thus a proximate choice for the corresponding entry in my quest to broaden my literary horizons.

Harjo’s life story is that of many Native Americans of her generation: as far removed from the American Dream as you can be; socially marginalized, with families torn apart by PTSD, a racist environment, government policy similarly ranging from outright racism to bland neglect and indifference, and the “coping” mechanisms of those tossed onto the scrap heap of society and abandoned there: chiefly, alcohol and violence.  Yet, she tells her story — which in the audio version she reads herself — in a flat, matter of fact tone, which left a much greater impression on me than other, similar tales, such as Sherman Alexie’s Reservation Blues, which is brimming with angry young man sentiment, and which for exactly that reason had me stop caring after a while (“get on with your story already”).  By contrast, I never stopped caring while listening to Harjo; in fact, this being a memoir, it’s difficult to cleanly separate my respect for Harjo as a person and my assessment of the book as such, whose title aptly summarizes both Harjo’s personal history and the personality coming across in her narrative.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Literature Reviews

Anthony Berkeley: Murder in the Basement

This is middling Berkeley, not as problematic as The Wychford Poisoning Case or The Silk Stockings Murders, but OTOH also a fair way from the (mostly) enjoyable and intelligent writing that are The Poisoned Chocolates Case and Trial and Error. I rather like the setup — a body found by accident in a place where […]

Read More
Literature Reviews

Phoebe Atwood Taylor: The Cape Cod Mystery

The Appointment with Agatha group’s January 2022 side read: my first book by Atwood Taylor (though I’d heard her name before) and almost certainly not my last one. I’m not entirely sold on the main investigator, Asey Mayo; he comes across as rather too mannered and the book might have benefitted if the first person […]

Read More
Literature Reviews

Zora Neale Hurston: Dust Tracks on a Road

Definitely the best book I read during the first week of the new year; the New Yorker pretty much nailed it when calling the book “warm, witty, imaginative” and adding “This is a rich and winning book.” I’d (finally) read Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God last year; having now read her autobiography, I recongnize […]

Read More
%d bloggers like this: