Hyemeyohsts Storm Storm, Hyemeyohsts

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Storm, Hyemeyohsts

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Storm, an American Indian, is the author of the novel Seven Arrows.

There are few books that have a genuine hypnotic effect on the reader. Fewer still are those occasions in our reading lives when we come across a work with magical properties so enchanting that we immediately sense that we will be haunted by it the rest of our lives. Seven Arrows, by Hyemeyohsts Storm, is such a book, a novel—the first novel by an American Indian. It is the most extraordinary book I have ever read. I think that it is going to force us to reconsider some of our basic conceptions of American literature. I know that it is going to make us stand up and look at the American Indian artist in a way that we have never regarded him before.

Topographically, the book is unique in itself: almost square in shape, printed in double columns, illustrated by dozens of photographs of animals and of traditional Indian life and nearly a dozen color paintings of medicine wheels created specifically for this volume. But this is not to suggest a novel with pictures in the Victorian novelist's sense or a children's story told primarily by illustration. Instead, the photographs and color paintings have been fully integrated into the text of the novel itself. It is impossible to think of the book without them and our memories of the novel, after finishing it, are also images of haunting Indian faces. There are illimitable reproductions of these faces reprinted from the archives of more than a half dozen museums and historical associations, all reproduced in brown and white, as is the text of the novel itself. The color plates depicting the medicine shields are as important to our understanding of the novel as any of the events in the narrative or the characters who embellish the story with their analyses of the religious overtones of the shields' origins. It is this perfect union of word and image that may be said to constitute the prime concern of Seven Arrows: the growth of our perceptions of the world we live in….

We must, to a certain extent, suspend our traditional concepts of the novel when we read Seven Arrows, for at least two of the traditional conventions of the novel's form—character and time—are rejected here. Only place—the great American plains, near the Rocky Mountains—remains as a conventional unifying force. It is particularly the absence of one central character, however, that most strongly marks Storm's novel as something apart from the norm. Seven Arrows has no central character, and because of this we may say that...

(The entire section is 657 words.)