Well, it was a first for me.
And yes, this is shameless self-promotion!
Thanks to all of you who went out of your way to give me accolades on my accolades!
While I receive many kind words about these meanderings and for my two published works, I never grow tired of it, and it always humbles and makes me really aware of the kindness shown me.
On Aug. 11, I got my first actual real-life review in another publication.
Yes, that Sunday’s The Advocate in Baton Rouge reviewed three short story collections, and one of them was Chasing Thunderbirds by yours truly and illustrated by my friend Gary Drinkwater.
The reviewer says my collection is "informed by the spiritual beliefs of his people" and "Stouff’s voice is subdued. He lavishes detail and captures Louisiana’s atmosphere well."
He applauds Gary’s fantastic illustrations, most especially the cover, and concludes that, as I warned myself, Chasing Thunderbirds "won’t be every reader’s cup of tea, but for those interested in a perspective rooted in a unique culture, Stouff’s book is a good choice."
So there it is, our and my first published review, and a good one, to boot!
Last shameless plug: Chasing Thunderbirds is available at Fad News Stand and the Forest Restaurant.
Oh, and volume two is coming together already. It took me 20 years to write the first one, so in another 20, who knows? I’ve got a title already, though: Thunderbirds Fallen. And the title story is gonna be a mind-blower!
A buddy of mine sent me this and I got a pretty good chuckle out of it.
This is one of those un-PC ethnic things. One of those where you gotta possess the ethnicity to repeat it, or you’re not politically correct and the ACLU comes down to drag you to court. Luckily, the ACLU has no jurisdiction in Indian Country, as we have no signed treaties with them. Sherman Alexie said it best, I think, when he said, we’re Indians. "Native American" is just a silly thing made up by guilty-feeling non-Indians.
Being PC aggravates the heck of out me anyway. One of the best things about surviving attempted mass annihilation, to me, is being able to laugh about it.
Author Jim Northrup likes to tell a couple of stories that pretty much reflect most of our feelings on the Rez. Jim, an Ojibwe, was actually asked once, "How long have you been an Indian?"
Jim didn’t bat an eye. "Fifty-one years," he said, and being 52-years-old at the time, he added, "It woulda been 52, but I was sick a year."
Another of my favorite writers, Drew Hayden Taylor, is from the same nation but on the Canadian side of that silly line Europeans drew without consulting with the people that actually lived here. Kinda like they did in the Middle East. And Australia. And…never mind. No use beating a dead horse about it, right?
Drew has my eternal admiration and envy for the title of his first book, Funny, You Don’t Look Like One: Observations of a Blue-eyed Ojibwe.
Anyway, my buddy Gary Drinkwater sent me this, who got it from a Caddo Indian buddy of his. Look at it as if it’s Letterman’s Top 10 Things Indians Could Say to Non-Indians Instead of the Other Way Around:
10. So, how much white are you?
9. I’m part white myself, you know.
8. I learned all your people’s ways in the Boy Scouts (Order of the Bullet).
7. You know, my great-great-grandmother was a full-blooded European princess.
6. Funny, you don’t look non-indigenous.
5. Where’s your powdered wig and knickers?
4. Do you live in a covered wagon?
3. What’s the meaning behind the square dance?
2. Oh wow, I really love your hair! Can I touch it?
1. What’s your feeling about riverboat casinos? Do they really help your people, or are they just a short-term fix?
There’s more to the list, both questions and statements, of course. One of my favorites is, "Stouff doesn’t sound like an Indian name."
Well, no, actually I had it changed from "Dances With Fly Rods" to "Roger Emile Stouff" so it would fit in a one-column byline. I thought about just making it John Smith, but I was afraid someone would have mistaken me for a Pilgrim or something.
You know what’s the number one pickup line at Indian bingo, according to Jim Northrup? "Pocahontas ain’t got nothing on you, baby."
Yeah, yeah, yeah…an Indian told me that one.
Here’s one from Sherman Alexie, to be recited and repeated as an indigenous basketball team’s chant:
Well I took the ball to the hoop and what did I see?
Gen. George Armstrong Custer was a’guarding me–
A few T-shirts I saw at the last gathering of nations I went to:
"Custer Got The Point"
"America: Love It Or Give It Back"
"Fry Bread Power"
"Custer Was Siouxed"
"Indians Discovered Columbus"
But perhaps my favorite of all was the one my dad had laminated and framed and kept in his crafts shop. It was the old "Redeye" comic strip. Redeye, the chief, is sitting out in the desert when this guy in a suit and carrying a briefcase comes along.
"What do you want, paleface?" Chief Redeye asks.
"I’m here to help you," says the stranger.
"Why?" asks the chief.’
"I’m with the government."
"Make up your mind," says the chief.