Thursday, September 9, 2010

(Book #29) Black Elk Speaks & (Book #30) Shit My Dad Says

Once again, I have gotten a bit behind on the write-ups for the books I have read. This year has been plowing along at an incredible pace, and when combined with other activities and obligations, it has resulted in a sense of urgency to get these books done. The writing aspect of this challenge also takes up a fair amount of time when done thoroughly. Ultimately the goal is the reading and not necessarily the writing, which was more of an afterthought and a device to help process what I have read and collect my thoughts and opinions on the subject matter. This is not to say that I won't be doing the writings, but there will likely be more concise blurbs and less essays unless, of course, the urge to gush, rant or vent is overwhelming!

Twenty-ninth up is a book called 'Black Elk Speaks' and recalls the personal experiences of a holy man of the Sioux Indian tribe. This was not a lengthy book, but was dense with many rich narratives and traditions of this particular tribe in the period after the Civil War through the notorious and unsettling massacre at Wounded Knee. Knowing only a little of these events, it was still a very fascinating and humbling read, particularly that knowing many of the ideas and details given in these stories were typically told through the art of verbal storytelling. The fact that the stories and experiences of Black Elk were allowed to be collected and written down by a man named John G. Neilhardt is a testament to the trust and respect that these two had for each other and the embodiment of a people they sought to preserve.

I followed that up with a quick and humorous read, Justin Halpert's 'Shit My Dad Says'. I got a free copy of this a few weeks ago and thought it would be an entertaining book that would help me catch up in this project. This book was spawned by the Twitter feed of the same name, and was also published in this medium ahead of a further tie-in in the form of a television sitcom. Having already been a follower of the random and often crass nuggets of wisdom from this guy's aging cranky father, this book aimed to flesh out the stories behind some of these one liners and paint a more sympathetic portrait of one of life's characters. I felt it was successful portrayal in that through all of the wacky shit that comes out of this guy's mouth, the reader gets a real sense of who he is as a person and a father, while still getting a good laugh out of it.

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