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Gertrude Stein

“There There” Offers Visceral Vision of Urban Indian Life

in Fiction by

There There (Knopf) by Tommy Orange tells the stories of 12 people of Native American descent in Oakland, California, Deep East Oakland, that is, where crime is so rampant a failing mall has been turned into a police station. Like more than half of all Native Americans today, they are urban Indians. “Urban Indians feel at home walking the shadow of a downtown building,” writes Orange. “We came to know the downtown Oakland skyline better than we did any sacred mountain range, the redwoods in the Oakland Hills better than any wild deep forest.” Urban Indians are the direct result of the Indian Relocation Act of 1952, which encouraged Native Americans to assimilate and find jobs in cities by leaving reservations,…

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Fabulous literary spring break destinations

in Potpourri by

I was swapping ideas one night with a friend about where we would go for an inspirational weekend of no-costs-barred fun, if we could. Winter was dragging. The college kids at the school where he taught were starting to plan their spring break and we were way too old for that. “Someplace where writers would go,” I said. “Someplace strange, but great.” I didn’t want a beach trip or some international adventure. I just wanted to be inspired and see something new. My friend had just told me about the day he’d spent in France when he had accidentally found himself touring Gertrude Stein’s famous apartment, which had been the epicenter of the literary salon scene in 1920s Paris. In…

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