Friday, March 28, 2008

Counting Coup

Bibliography
Crow, Joseph Medicine. 2003. Counting Coup: Becoming a Crow Chief on the Reservation and Beyond. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic. ISBN 0792253914

Plot Summary
This book is a recounting of Joseph Medicine Crow's life story infused with stories of his Indian heritage. Joe is working with the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian to help preserve his family stories.

Critical Analysis
This book begins by explaining what it means to "count coup" in the Crow culture. The narrator then goes on to show how during his lifetime, which was after the tribal days, he was successful in counting coup for himself during World War II, even though he didn't think of what he did in those terms. There are a few pictures of "his people" in the center of the book.

When I sat down to read this book, I read half of it at one time. It is easily read and well written. The reader gets a slice of reality of the narrator's life. It is not sensationalized or crying out for sympathy, nor is it a comprehensive history of the Crow people. It is biography.

I found the story about General Custer very interesting because I've been to the battlefield grounds. I enjoyed reading about the Crow, as I know little about that specific tribe.

Middlesex

Bibliography
Eugenides, Jeffrey. 2002. Middlesex. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. ISBN 9780312422158

Plot Summary
This is a story of Calliope and how her family's history and genetics have really made her a unique individual. Her family is Greek. Her grandparents fled Greece when the Turks attacked it and burned their village. They ended up in Detroit, where another fire will change their lives. As Callie hits puberty, she realizes that she is different. She comes to terms with her differences and even exploits them at one point.

Critical Analysis
What a wonderful narrative! The way the story unfolded reminds me of a flower blooming. This is not an easy read with its 529 pages and time shifts, but it is a necessary read.
We begin with a history of the grandparents, to learn how they came to be in Detroit. The reader is surprised by these two characters. Genetics plays a huge part of the story, but it is not a scientific (non-understandable) lesson. It is a lesson of how love and science sometimes don't mix.
We follow Callie as she grows up and his puberty. This is when he life dramatically changes. We experience her awkwardness, her first crush, her first sexual encounter. She is guarded, but allows the reader to enter her world.

There are so many stories entwined in this book that as readers, we become part of the story ourselves. I took five pages of scattered notes as I read. We face the rioters with Callie's dad; we feel Callie's confusion when she hits puberty; we mourn the death of grandpa Lefty. There is so much going on in this book, and it seems so believable, that I had to remind myself that Eugenides created this and it is a work of fiction. It reads like a biography and well worth the time.

March

Bibliography

Brooks, Geraldine. 2005. March. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0143036661

Plot Summary
Winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize, this book tells the other side of Little Women--the absent dad. What was he doing in the South during the Civil War? Why did he care so much about certain slaves? Why could he not write the truth in the letters home? The story shows the dicotomy of what Mr. March endured and what he wrote home to his family.


Critical Analysis
I enjoyed reading the narrative by Geraldine Brooks. She researched what could have happened to Mr. March and created a wonderful story. Reading this book makes me want to re-read Louisa May Alcott's story.

I read this for a group called Faith Lit. One of the concerns mentioned about this book is there are no strong men. What is the nature of March's march?
--growing up story (disallusioned) naive, innocence
--military--forced walk; disciplined march
--walks/marches all throughout the novel
--hero's journey?