"The Grass Dancer"
(Reviewed by Judi Clark APR 13, 1999)
Author Susan Power explores the Sioux of the North Dakota, through short stories that tie these complex, intertwined lives together. When Anna Thunder loses her son to illness because her first cousin and niece go to a dance rather than get the doctor, she calls upon the powers offered by Red Dress and makes her niece dance to her death. But as Red Dress says, the medicine is only bad when it is self serving. Throughout all of these stories we see Red Dress warn through visions and dreams against the bad medicine of Anna Thunder.
Power weaves magic and stories back and forth between the contemporary lives and those of the ancestors, until we know that one can not be without the other. These stories are beautiful, written in the tradition of oral histories. We find ourselves experiencing pow wows and other traditional Indian events. The Grass Dancer compels us to sway with the words of these stories and read them again and again.
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
E-Book Study Guide:
- Study Guide for THE GRASS DANCER (July 2002)
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- Susan Power wins the Hodder-Fellowship
- Penguin Group page on The Grass Dancer
- eNotes on The Grass Dancer
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About the Author:
Susan Mary Power was born in Chicago in 1961 in was raised in Chicago, Illinois. Power's mother, Susan Kelly Power (Gathering of Storm Clouds Woman), founded the American Indian Center in Chicago and was very dedicated to her tribe, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of Fort Yates, North Dakota. While Power's mother, the descendant of the Sioux Chief Mato Nupa (Two Bears), would recite her stories about their native lineage, Her father, Carleton Gilmore Power, the grandson of the governor of New Hampshire during the Civil War, would read her stories at night. Both of these traditions form the basis of her writing.
Power received an A.B.degree in Psychology from Harvard/Radcliffe, a J. D. from Harvard Law School and a M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She has also been granted a James Michener Fellowship (1992-1993) and a Bunting Institute Fellowship at Radcliffe College (1993-1994). Her short fiction has been published in The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The Voice Literary Supplement, Ploughshares, Story and the Best American Short Stories 1993. She began writing The Grass Dancer while attending the Iowa Writer's Workshop in 1992 and finished it in only two and a half years. Power won the 1995 PEN/Hemingway Award for First Fiction for The Grass Dancer.
Power is currently a freelance writer supported by an Alfred Hodder Fellowship in Humanities at Princeton University. She also pursues her interests in acting, singing and performing.