December 4, 2020

Review: The Only Good Indians

The Only Good Indians The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book....did not impress me very much. It seemed like it wanted to be a supernatural horror story on the one hand, and a literary tale on the other, and for my money (or not, since I got it from the library) it didn't succeed at either. I didn't care for the author's prose style--it's a long-sentence, comma-heavy, run-on stream-of-consciousness that I guess was meant to be profound and simply didn't work. The "horror" part of the story was sporadic. (Although it was breathtakingly intense and nasty when it did arrive; when I reached page 115, my first thought was HOLY SHIT WHAT DID I JUST READ. Let's just say the horror scenes are not for the squeamish.) The pacing seemed off as well. In particular the final confrontation between Denorah and Elk Head Woman was way too long and drawn out. (Even if I enjoyed basketball, that endless, excruciating, painstakingly described one-on-one scrimmage would have gotten to me.) 

The more successful parts of the book were the depictions of the rez and contemporary Native American life. Denorah was a better protagonist than any of the others; I would have enjoyed an entire story (and not necessarily a horror story) about her. Unfortunately, in this book, she's part of a series of elements that just don't mesh. It's too bad.

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