Friday, April 03, 2009

Run, don't walk, to the nearest bookstore and buy a copy of Lisa Jones' book, Broken; A Love Story, about Stanford Addison, an Arapoho medicine man who has been paralyzed for thirty years following a car accident in his reckless youth. Addison teaches people how to break horses; he teaches everyone how to surrender humbly, lose themselves and find their center. He does it through sacrifice, suffering, humor and love, in the midst of poverty and illness and swarms of kids, dogs, horses, relatives and refugees.

This all sounds very woo-woo and New Age. It isn't. Trust me, I hate that shit. The Indian community as depicted in this book is awash in contradictions; sacred and broken, poor and wealthy, sick and healthy. The people drink diet cherry cokes and shop at Wal-Mart; ingest peyote and attend sweat lodges; get arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct and offer cigarettes to a stature of the Virgin Mary the Virgin Mary during hospital stays.

It is not, repeat not, another romanticized white person's spiritual quest on Native lands. Instead it is a lovingly wrought, painfully honest, crowded, poignant, and funny look at all of it.

I had read versions of this book in draft form a year or two ago when I helped Lisa with some little editorial things. She manages to pack in history, politics, spirituality, healing, and personal stories so seamlessly and compactly that you are not even aware of what a huge mouthful you are digesting until after you have swallowed it and are lying around in the sun like a snake that has just swallowed a jackrabbit. The book is the snake and your ego is--was-- the rabbit. Taking it in is like ingesting peyote for those of us who are less adventurous with hallucinogens. Read it and weep, shake, laugh, and let your heart creak open.

1 comment:

Lisa Jones said...

wow! i just saw this post of yours, alison... THANK YOU... and a note -- the book won't be available in bookstores til probably mid-May...I'm in Wyoming now. Stanford in the hospital with a UTI gone wild for the second time in six weeks. oy. but I am bringing him lots of guacamole, which he loves, and we are getting to watch a lot of reality TV.