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"House Made of Dawn" by N. Scott Momaday

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A bleak depiction of a Native American man struggling to adapt to life in America in the '40s and '50s. The diction here is such that we can apply the words "stark" and "lyrical." The story is told in multiple viewpoints, and for me sometimes it was hard to keep clear who was doing the telling. However, the pain and recovery of Abel, the main character, are the meanest, grittiest, and clearest aspects of the plot. There is an interesting character here who styles himself a sun priest; he's a preacher in L.A. and has a very perceptive take on the difference between creation and the way St. Paul tells it. Eventually he is no help to Abel and although he may have the inclination to help, he does not understand Abel or his problems.
This book is full of wonderful, vast Southwestern imagery, and it is peopled with iconic characters. In the Bible, Abel is murdered, but this Abel is able to return to his roots and reconstruct his house made of dawn. (There is a wonderful description of the sun coming up over the rim of a vast crater, and it's a key image in the book.) Another key here is a song sung by a Kiowa chanter, which grows into a sacred litany of holy and beautiful things. Thus do we see Abel, who gives up trying to change into an Anglo, and takes his position in a long, sacred line of Natives, and eventually reproduces and perpetuates it.

These images and geography are not to my taste, but this is a very well-crafted book. For what it is and what it covers, I do recommend it.
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