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MEN ON THE MOON by Simon J. Ortiz

MEN ON THE MOON

Collected Short Stories

By Simon J. Ortiz

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1999
ISBN: 0-8165-1929-3
Publisher: Univ. of Arizona

paper 0-8165-1930-7 Ortiz, a member of the Acoma tribe of the Southwest, is best known as a prolific and highly original poet, but he has also, since the 1960s, been publishing short stories, his three collections now gathered in one volume. They share with his poetry the measured, precise cadence of oral tales and are leavened equally with sorrowful anger and with baffled wit at the ways of the “Mericanos.” In the title story, an old man contemplates with astonishment the journey of the Apollo astronauts to the moon. When told that they are journeying there for knowledge, he wonders whether “they have run out of places to look for knowledge on the earth.” In “Something’s Going On,” a young boy discovers why his father, now a fugitive, had warned him that white men “haven’t taken enough yet” from Indians: “They want more. They want our spirits, our hearts, our lives. They are so empty. They are so hungry.” In “What Indians Do,” the narrator posits an idea essential to all of Ortiz’s work: that the songs and tales of a people both preserve their knowledge and sustain them. Some of the tales seem, necessarily, somewhat dated, while others are too short, or too terse, to build up much impact. All of them, though, exhibit Ortiz’s considerable vigor and demonstrate his influence on the many Native American writers who have emerged since he began publishing.