Sunday, May 18, 2008

RAFBN-Week 1

Welcome to the inaugural post of my Summer Reading Campaign. Hope you will enjoy my selections. Every Sunday evening, from now to the week before Labor Day, I will recommend one book and of course hope you will read it. These aren't necessarily reviews, and yeah, there may be a spoiler or two, but come on--most folks read a book based some tease of the spoiler anyway, okay? By the way RAFBN is an acronym for my favorite Hip Hop parody satire "Read a F--- book, N---" Satire's supposed to dig into deeper issues, so if you're offended by the acronym it usually means you're too shallow to get it. (wink)
The first selection is entitled One Thousand White Women, by Gary Fergus. No, the title's not about NFL groupies, or Reggie Bush or the USC hoops/football team's appetite. It is 1875. The Cheyenne Indians ponder the genocide of the East Coat and New England tribes over the course of 200 years. They've seen the futile battles of the Indians of the Midwest under Tecumseh. The so-called "Civilized" Tribes of Seminole, Creek, Choctaw and Cherokee in the South have been ripped from the their lands and hauled away to Oklahoma. They know it will only be a matter of time before the mighty Sioux fall dead on the plains, and the Apache are pried, bloodily, out of the desert. Their only hope of avoiding being erased: in return for ponies, disarming, getting out of the white man's way, they will ask for 1000 white women of breeding age. The aim? Marry them, learn from them, impregnate them, and build a generation of offspring that will have the rights of Americans and thus help the Cheyenne assimilate into this terrifying new world. These children will carry at least some tiny seed and memory of the Cheyenne people forward. Better that than be wiped out.
The chiefs travel to Washington to make a peace plea to President Grant. Though already beseiged by claims of corruption and the drain of Reconstruction in the South, the Grant Administration agrees to a sit-down. The First Lady literally faints dead away when the chiefs share their plans at a White House luncheon in their honor. The 19th Century equivalents of O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity go ape in their newpspaer columns. The Indians barely get out without being lynched...yet secretly, Grant assents to the request. Might not be a bad idea--pacifying the Indians without killing them all. So the word quietly goes out to prisons, debt farms, young womens homes (reform schools/orphanages for teenage girls), lunatic asylums. Along with women who willingly want to start over--including some freed slaves who see nothing but terror and ruin in the South and who likely want kids with good hair--the women arrive in the Dakotas. Chaos ensues...and not the happy sit-com kind.
Of course, this didn't really happen. This brand of historical fiction is a new one and breaths life in the genre. The narrative is that of a fiction character named Mary Dodd, who's sprung from a mental hospital as part of the brides-for-Injuns plot.
Not good for a beach read, but beats picking your ass whilst you wait in airports, train depots, on Metro platforms, in traffic (as a passenger...safety first) or as your kid's in line registering for summer camp. Read and learn...

12 comments:

nabilaJ said...

I don't think the "F" was in the original cartoon. I will check Youtube.

The title is funny. This is a real book? LOL

Your sister in NC said...

The title alone will get people to pick it up off the shelves and have a glance.

Lisa said...

I have a different take. Anything about Native Americans seems to have a broad appeal and is prominent at the book stores. If this were about Reconstruction falling apart and the Klan no one would buy it nor would it be hyped.

LeLe Hill said...

Thanks you this recommendation.

Are you going to only feature relatively new books or are you going to include older books also?

Christopher Chambers said...

Older books as well (overlooked) such as (preview) Andrea Levy's Fruit of the Lemon, etc. and nonfiction. Not children's or other major genres like that.

Recommendations are welcome for books written by folk from these institutions/groups: NABJ, Georgetown, Princeton, Howard U; anything pertaining to local DC or Baltimore life or lore.

thefayth said...

"and who likely want kids with good hair", way too thick says my hairdresser. thanks for the recc will pick it up!

Anonymous said...

But is any of this true--was there a Cheyenne Medicine Man who proposed this? The indications are yes...

Anonymous said...

But is any of this true--was there a Cheyenne Medicine Man who proposed this? The indications are yes...

Exquisitely Black said...

Love the idea of doing the book recommendations. I've got tons on my reading list already, but will look forward to seeing your picks.

Are you focusing on literary fiction only or will you be mixing in different genres?

Eisa said...

What a great idea, Chris! Can I link your recommendations on my blog?

Eisa

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

what u know bout the ohio river area native americans folk lol. god deal, read one of my books this summer

Lola Gets said...

Im going to check this one out! One book on Native American history that I particularly love is "American Holocaust", but I cant remember the author right now.

And, Ill be back to make some suggestions once I get back to my personal library!
:)

L