Books by Diane Glancy

Released: Nov. 15, 2016

"A thoughtful and often beautiful volume of poetry that explores the Middle East and America."
Glancy (Trigger Dance, 2015, etc.) contemplates history and culture in this new collection of poems.Read full book review >
STONE HEART by Diane Glancy
Released: Feb. 17, 2003

"A short, masterful work about creative consciousness in the land."
A brilliant, artistically ambitious retelling of the familiar tale of the Shoshoni tribeswoman who accompanied Lewis and Clark. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 2002

"Post-structurally defiant in its bits and narrative pieces, but at its core a probing, honest tale."
Voices and stories fill the pages of prolific Native American writer Glancy's latest (after The Mask Maker, 2002, etc.) as a middle-aged Cherokee woman faces conflicts at work, in her fractured family, and in her faith. The voices start for Ada in the library at the Oklahoma college where she works minding the Rare Books collection, voices that seem to complain of the loss of her people's oral tradition. But, for better or worse, she's a reader and pores over the accounts of the Cherokee Removal in the early 19th century, written though they are by the Army officers in charge of the brutal relocation. She seeks solace in the Old Testament as well, looking for answers to the bitterness in her brothers, which manifests itself as they lash out at their wives and each other, and as she, her physicist husband, and their daughters are increasingly left to care for all their nieces and nephews. Regular visits to the roller-skating rink, where she can imagine herself alone and flying, provide some relief, but Christianity is her bulwark against the spells and witchcraft that others in the family resort to in their anger, and it's her refuge when her mother dies; unfortunately, it can't help her come to terms with what she views as the defining moment in her childhood—about which everyone she consults seems to have a different, far less traumatic memory. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

"It's over almost before you know it, but a haunting solitude blows through these pages, a true intimation of the serene and lonely plains that overcomes some of the rougher, unfinished elements here."
A literature professor muses on his relationship with the earth, in the latest from Native American author Glancy (Trigger Dance, 1990, etc.). Read full book review >
THE MASK MAKER by Diane Glancy
Released: March 1, 2001

"Like the film Koyaanisqatsi, fearlessly morose about a world out of joint and lives out of balance."
Mixed-blood Cherokee Native American Glancy—a widely talented prizewinner writer-poet-essayist-playwright, holder of the Cherokee Medal of Honor (Pushing the Bear, 1996)—now explores her roots imaginatively through the agency of masks. She offers a new twist on format for novels by inserting brief parallel passages, either of commentary or narrative, in a different typeface on the same page as the ongoing story, much as movies enjoy simultaneity and tell parallel stories—a narrative structure that here never feels forced. Edith Lewis, a mixed-blood Cherokee, recently divorced from Bill Lewis, drives about Oklahoma giving lessons in mask-making. Edith lives in a universe of masks, has students or those seeking her help make their own masks to project their inner being, sense of outrage, or whatever, much like a Jungian symbol-seeker or Joseph Campbell gathering up the masks of God: "Everything was broken. The masks got together. They decided they could stop the breaking. They could restore. They could stop the breaking." FREELY SCATTERED CAPITALS, NOT TO MENTION EXCLAMS!!!, help evoke Edith's MIXED-UP SPIRIT AS SHE STRIVES TO PULL OFF HER OWN MASK!!! Read full book review >
FULLER MAN by Diane Glancy
Released: Oct. 1, 1999

The prolific Glancy (Flutie, 1998, etc.) continues her exploration of the sources and nature of religious faith. Hadley Willigie's family, rooted in a small Missouri town, is loudly dysfunctional: her mother is stringently religious, embracing a harsh version of Christianity; her father is a tough-minded journalist, outdoorsman—and skeptic. Hadley, her brother Gus, and her younger sister Healey react in varied but equally extreme ways to the escalating battles over child-rearing belief between their parents. Healey becomes profoundly devout, Gus retreats into a seductive dreamworld, and Hadley, torn between a desire to believe and admiration for her charming father, frequently draws her mother's ire. Looming in the background is Aunt Mary, their mother's astringent sister, a woman absolutely convinced of the rightness of her disturbing, caustic, and intense version of Christianity. Glancy follows Hadley from childhood to middle age. She marries, becomes a journalist and a mother herself, and continues to wobble between despairing doubt and faith. Healey, meanwhile, becomes a missionary in Africa, returning home only infrequently and seeming more serene than her mother or aunt, but just as devout. Glancy seems to suggest that Hadley's inability to enjoy life or connect fully with her husband or children has something to do with her inability to discover a healing faith. That changes, though, during a revival meeting, when a faith-healer, seemingly by the laying on of hands, is able to arouse in Hadley a restorative sense of belief and self-acceptance. Glancy's determination to plumb an unfashionable question in fiction—how faith or the lack of it shapes and sustains our lives—is admirable, but it's undermined here by a fragmented, sometimes cryptic narrative, by language that sometimes labors too hard to catch the tang and pace of real speech, and by Hadley's wan character. Nonetheless, there are moving passages, and the battles over dogma and doubt are often fascinating. Well-intentioned, but more interesting for its ideas than for its characters. Read full book review >
FLUTIE by Diane Glancy
Released: April 1, 1998

Prolific Native American novelist and essayist Glancy (The West Pole, 1997) returns to territory she first explored in the short novel The Only Piece of Furniture in the House (1996), probing the spiritual resources and yearnings of apparently nondescript figures. Flutie, her heroine, is 13 when we first meet her, living in a hard, grim little Oklahoma town, held at arm's length by a ferociously unhappy mother, and yearning for support, which is not forthcoming, from her taciturn father. He's a Cherokee, long cut off from his people—the only tie he maintains to that past is a sweatlodge behind the house, to which he periodically retreats. Flutie has more than the usual set of adolescent problems: Following a childhood accident, and her grisly mistreatment by a doctor, she finds it difficult to say more than a few halting words. Ignored by her schoolmates and by her family, tormented by visions of supernatural messengers, and without any sort of religious framework to explain her experiences, she repeatedly sinks into lethargic dismay. Glancy demonstrates a strong and very particular gift for catching the way in which spiritual yearnings work on an untutored mind. The narrative follows Flutie through adolescence and on to college. Along the way, she experiments disastrously with drugs and alcohol, learns, painfully, to begin to distance herself from her self-destructive family, and even discovers a calling. More importantly, buoyed by her visions of the natural world and the mysterious spirituality woven into it, she begins, haltingly, to speak. Readers may find Glancy's terse descriptions of Flutie's dysfunctional family repetitive and unenlightening. And her slow, subtle excavation of Flutie's consciousness (which is particularly fragmented in the early scenes) may prove tedious for some. Still, there's real power and originality in Glancy's stubborn focus on seemingly impoverished lives. Her insistence on the saving presence of spirituality in even badly damaged characters is moving and, ultimately, convincing. Read full book review >
THE WEST POLE by Diane Glancy
Released: March 1, 1997

Slight, self-satisfied essays on issues of Native American culture and identity. Glancy is an accomplished novelist (Pushing the Bear, 1996, etc.) and essayist (she won an American Book Award for Claiming Breath). But she is less successful here as memoirist and critic. This grab bag of essays, many written in loose verse, deals at length with her struggle to define herself as an Indian. ``I had no clear image of myself as a Native person,'' she writes. ``I was a part-Cherokee living on land that had belonged to another tribe.'' But her account of this process of self-discovery, of trying to reconstruct the lives and thoughts of her forebears, is diffuse and in the end not especially interesting; the subject of ``mixed blood'' identity is treated much better in Patricia Hilden's 1995 memoir, When Nickels Were Indians (not reviewed), and without Glancy's grating, New Agestyle platitudes (``I guess you can hear anything again. You can still scrape hides. If only through the imagination in your own head'' ). She thrives on circular arguments and questionable logic to assert her claims for Native identity, as when she defines a Native American as ``pretty much like any human being who had a high culture built on codes of honor and a behavior and way of life that were in harmony with their existence''—in short, pretty much like we all believe ourselves to be. She is still less convincing when discussing issues of literary theory. She equates, for no discernibly compelling reason, the adventurous spirit of Christopher Columbus with that of Thelma and Louise of movie fame, and she maintains as inarguable that Native American literature can only be viewed in Native American terms (which she never defines), an idea the literary scholar Arnold Krupat handily dispensed with in a recent study. ``What Native American literature and culture offer you is yourself,'' Glancy volunteers. There are countless better avenues to that discovery than the one Glancy follows. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1996

A powerful short novel from the prolific poet and novelist Glancy (Pushing the Bear, 1996; Claiming Breath, 1992, etc.) that maps unusual terrain. Set in the present, in small, seemingly changeless southern towns and dusty Army posts, the story traces the emergence into adulthood of Rachel Hume—a devout, sheltered young woman, part of a large, affectionate family of itinerant laborers, and of her struggle to create a life apart from them, and to square her religious beliefs with marriage and motherhood. Glancy pulls off the difficult feat of making a seemingly quiet life rich, complex, and deeply moving. A powerful meditation on the manner in which religious and earthly love may reinforce one another, offering something sustaining ``beyond the plainness of our lives.'' Read full book review >
PUSHING THE BEAR by Diane Glancy
Released: Aug. 26, 1996

A powerful mosaic of voices combine, in poet and storywriter (Trigger Dance, 1990, etc.) Glancy's first novel, to create a haunting portrait of the Trail of Tears. In 1838, some 13,000 Cherokee Indians were driven at bayonet point from their fertile lands (coveted by white settlers) in several southern states, and compelled to march almost a thousand miles to the Oklahoma Territory, ``toward darkness, toward death,'' forced to leave everything behind. Perhaps a quarter of the tribe (principally the elderly, women, and children) died along the way. Glancy, interweaving first-person narratives by a number of figures, most of them Cherokees, captures the horror of the forced march, much of it made during winter, and the mingled bafflement, anger, despair, and resignation of the Cherokee (who had swiftly adopted farming and European dress, had developed their own written language, and in many cases embraced Christianity). Two voices stand out from the chorus: that of Maritole, a young woman who loses most of her family, including an infant, along the march, and who gradually discovers a stubborn determination within herself to survive; and that of her proud, distant husband Knobowtee, struggling to retain some sense of self. The Cherokee, forced to depart with only the clothes on their backs, suffered horribly in the cold. Those attempting to escape were shackled or shot by the troops guarding them. And while curious whites gathered along the route to watch the tribe pass, few offered food, or blankets, or shelter. ``They called us savages,'' Maritole says of those who watch. ``Then it was all right to drive us from our land. Then it was all right to sit along the road and watch the spectacle of our march.'' Those who reached Oklahoma were abandoned without shelter or supplies. The voices that comprise the narrative are vigorous, and the period details convincing but not obtrusive. A distinctly original and haunting work of historical fiction. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1992

Glancy (the story collection Trigger Dance, 1990) won the North American Indian Prose Award for this wildly uneven grab-bag in the form of a journal: fresh language and banality, fine prose- poetry and self-indulgence. For Glancy, cut off young from her Cherokee grandmother, a connection to Native American culture seems as much willed as transmitted: After her divorce, ``I picked up my Indian heritage & began a journey toward [it].'' She explains that ``I was born between 2 heritages & I want to explore that empty space, that place-between-2-places'' through ``the breakdown of boundaries between the genres...the non-linear, non-boundaried non-fenced open-prairied words.'' In pieces such as ``Ontology & the Trucker\or, The Poem Is the Road,'' Glancy succeeds: While in the boundary-world of long-distance driving, she takes ``truckers who like to be followed'' as her almost mystical guides—they become ancient herds of buffalo migrating across the prairie, broken pieces of her intuitive, part-Cherokee father, even the form and energy of her poem. But too much of the book is devoted to warmed- over feminism, a justification of Glancy's Christian beliefs, along with sometimes lame comparisons of Christianity and Native American religion, and advice to writers that's so basic one wonders whether parody was intended. A worthwhile model for those advocating women's journal writing as a road to self-actualization and for people seeking to reconnect with a lost cultural heritage; other readers will be only intermittently rewarded. Read full book review >