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please note:

this is a mixture of my lazy academic reviews and personal moments as a mama going through academia, and it is all my own opinion, and has absolutely no affiliation with anybody else

writings & ramblings

Keeping Slug Woman Alive – Greg Harris

from the publisher: “This remarkable collection of eight essays offers a rare perspective on the issue of cross-cultural communication. Greg Sarris is concerned with American Indian texts, both oral and written, as well as with other American Indian cultural phenomena such as basketry and religion. His essays cover a range of topics that include orality, art, literary criticism, and pedagogy, and demonstrate that people can see more than just “what things seem to be.” Throughout, he asks: How can we read across cultures so as to encourage communication rather than to close it down?”


I had read the Potato Story before – and I don’t remember where, but it stuck around. A few more parts stuck out to me, I know I didn’t like the entitled tone he wrote with – “I wasn’t satisfied” “She didn’t tell hers tories in chronological order” – showing that the author went in with a bias, and a structure of what he thought should be told, and it’s little off-putting. However, the discussion on Love Medicine was great – how do we read cross-culture – and the knowledge that we have total into consideration the knowledge and situations of the storyteller and translator, if there is one, as well as what is lost in translations, and the movements from oral to written, as well as understanding the idiosyncrasies of reading oral literatures.


  • “No part of the project had been easy. Mabel didn’t present her stories in chronological order. Her stories moved in and out of different times frames and often implicated me as a listener” (1)
  • “I lifted my eyes just in time to catch Auntie Violet hiss. “Just like a white man,” she managed to say, exploding with laughter. “So wasteful.”” (2)
  • “It was a simple lesson: things aren’t always what they seem” (3)
  • “”It becomes particularly relevant as the critical discussion engages questions regarding reading in cross-cultural contexts. Specifically, how do people read across cultures?” (3)
  • Keeping Slug Woman Alive tells stories about relationships. In each of the essays I interweave a myriad of voices with autobiography and theoretical discourse to create a document representing exchanges that open the world people share with each other” (6)
  • “She looked back out the window and was quiet. I wasn’t satisfied with her answer. There had to be more to the story. But I knew enough not to ask then” (13)
  • “The very human need to belong, to be worthy and valued. Families. Who is Indian. Who is not. Families bound by history and blood. This is the stuff, the fabric of my Indian community” (117)
  • “Current discussion regarding cross cultural literatures centers on these same questions. How do we read and make sense of literatures produced by authors who represent in their work and are members of cultures different from our own?” (121)
  • “What makes written literatures cross-cultural depends as much on their content and productions as on their being read by a particular reader or community of readers” (121)
  • “Scholars who study American Indian oral literatures have become increasingly aware of the fact that the oral texts they read have been shaped and altered not only by those people (for the most part non-Indian) who have collected, translated, and transcribed them but also by the Indians who have told them to these people” (122)
  • “The task is to read American Indian written literatures in a way that establishes a dialogue between readers and the texts that works to explore their respective worlds and to expose the intermingling of the multiple voices within and between readers and what they read” (131)

buy the book: Keeping Slug Woman Alive

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