Stephen Graham Jones | July 2020 | 320 pgs
Ok folks, we are in the home stretch for wrapping up reviews for 2020! Apparently, I was just as behind in writing last year so I cant blame this on the thing that shall not be named. 🙄 9 more reviews to write after this and Im holding off on ‘serious’ reading until Im completely caught up. Im currently reading Blink by Michael Gladwell and Blacktop Wasteland by SA Crosby with Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi waiting in the wings. Im planning to write and relax all day. I think I’ll catch up on movies this weekend..hello Coming To America 2!
So, about our current book, The Only Good Indians! Im super excited to write about this one because Ive actually just finished my second read! It was this months bookclub read and this particular club always has lively discussion about the book and I wanted to revisit the characters before engaging. I originally read the book in October 2020 and while I liked the book overall, I had mixed feelings about the beginning. I wanted to see if that held true after a re-read and, it did. 🤦🏾♀️
The story is about a group of friends that while on a hunting trip, angers a strong spirit. It takes a while but, the spirit comes looking for them to exact her vengeance. It happens when they were young, living on a reservation with their families. We meet them years later, after they have left the reservation and are separated by distance and maturity but still believe in the Blackfoot Indian culture they were raised on. The story is told in a sort of short story format with segments for each friend. Each segment tells about the character, more about the hunting trip and their encounter with the spirit.
Pros: Graham Jones has an interesting writing style that mimics the way he speaks. It changes the cadence of his sentences and it took a minute for me to catch his rhythm. Once I did, I loved it. This reminds me of an old interview I heard once with Ronald Isley about writing with R. Kelly, he said with Kelly and the younger folks, writing was different because, ‘they use a lot more words’. It’s something once you hear, you can’t escape the truth of it. Jones’ too, uses a lot more words.
He uses his words wisely though and weaves in stories of his culture and experiences of his people that allow you to walk away like you read a history lesson, without having to do so. The story of the hunting trip unravels in pieces and during the journey you learn more about the spirit tracking the men. I wanted her to win and gain her vengeance. No matter how gory the story got, I cheered her on.
Cons: The story starts abruptly. We are plunged right in without the benefit of understanding any of the story. It occurs to me this may be the authors opportunity to play on our bias and/or lack of information about Indian culture. The headline is ‘Indian killed in drunken bar brawl’ and well, thats what some people think about Indians right? Indians are a bunch of drunken rowdies? In fact, the guy is being chased down and hunted by a ghost no one can see, in daylight.
Being thrown into the story so abruptly is off putting. You wont know time or place, why or even if you care until several chapters into the next friends story. I encourage you to stick with it! Once the story starts to unfold you will be riveted! If you’re unsure about the book, search YT, the author did a ton of interviews and readings around the book release and he’s great to watch and has a great voice. He’s passionate about his culture and I will pick up more of his work.
I enjoyed this book and the conversation during my bookclub! Y’all surprised I agreed to a club? 🤣😂 I hate structured reading but, I do enjoy the monthly bookish chat with my ladies with a glass of
wine vodka! Anyway, read this book! Goodbook #52
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The creeping horror of Paul Tremblay meets Tommy Orange’s There There in a dark novel of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.
Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.