Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Book for 1999 Since the 1968 publication of N. Scott Momaday's House Made of Dawn, a new generation of Native American storytellers has chosen writing over oral traditions. While their works have found an audience by observing many of the conventions of the mainstream vel, Native American written narrative has emerged as something distinct from the postmodern vel with which it is often compared. In Dreams of Fiery Stars, Catherine Rainwater examines the vels of writers such as Momaday, Linda Hogan, Leslie Marmon Silko, Gerald Vizer, and Louise Erdrich and contends that the very act of writing narrative imposes constraints upon these authors that are foreign to Native American tradition. Their works amount to a break with-and a transformation of-American Indian storytelling. The book focuses on the agenda of social and cultural regeneration encoded in contemporary Native American narrative, and addresses key questions about how these works achieve their overtly stated political and revisionary aims. Rainwater explores the ways in which the writers create readers who understand the connection between storytelling and personal and social transformation; considers how contemporary Native American narrative rewrites Western tions of space and time; examines the existence of intertextual connections between Native American works; and looks at the vital role of Native American literature in mainstream society today.
Catherine Rainwater is Associate Professor of English at St. Edward's University. She is coeditor with William J. Scheick of Contemporary American Women Writers: Narrative Strategies.