Michael Dorris (review date 4 August 1994)
SOURCE: "A Dynamic First Effort That Proves to Be the Real Thing," in Los Angeles Times, August 4, 1994, p. E7.
[Dorris is an American novelist, short story writer, poet, and critic. In the following review, he remarks favorably on The Grass Dancer.]
The Grass Dancer is a look through an inverted telescope into the rich tapestry of Dakota society. Moving a century backward from the early 1980s and reclosing the loop in the present, its series of related, beautifully told tales unravel the intricate stitch of related lives, the far-reaching consequences of chance acts, the lasting legacies of love and jealousy.
Susan Power, an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, has written a first novel that hums with serious intention and reads like a sad and lovely lament. The high plains reservation setting is rendered with the kind of authentic realism—the little but crucial details—that only the most acute observer notices, and her prose is both strong and lyrical.
As with other books that deal with the social dynamics of small communities, The Grass Dancer is concerned with the power of thwarted or stunted kinship—mothers who lose their daughters, fathers who die before they are known by their sons—and with marital love gone wrong or betrayed.
The bitterness of one generation literally haunts the next, and the next. Frustrated spirits often meddle in human affairs, and indeed the boundary dividing the living and the dead is occasionally so blurred that a man can marry his fiancee's ghost.
Magic suffuses the world that Power poetically describes. Eyelashes baked in chocolate cupcakes instantly turn high school boys...
(The entire section is 725 words.)