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Check It Out: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

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This is Ben Bemus with the Sioux City Public Library, and you’re listening to Check It Out.

Today I am recommending one of the books from our Adult Summer Reading Program – The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones. This is a brutal story of revenge, of being haunted and hunted down by the past, and of cycles of violence that persist through generations.

One Thanksgiving, four young Blackfeet men went on a disastrous hunting trip that resulted in them being banned from ever hunting on tribal land again. The book takes place near the tenth anniversary of that day, as strange and horrific events begin to unfold that seem to somehow relate back to that hunting trip. We meet one of the hunters, Lewis, who has moved off the reservation to marry a white woman. He nearly dies in the process of fixing a ceiling light, when he inexplicably sees a live elk on his living room floor. The next few days begin to unravel Lewis as he tries to figure out if his own guilt of that hunting trip is making him go crazy, or if something is really trying to tear his life apart.

I am a horror fan, and there were moments in this book that shocked me more than anything I have read recently. Jones is fantastic at writing horror, and none of the scares in this book are cheap or unearned – he draws from both Native tradition and American popular culture to create fresh terrors that fit perfectly within the overall plot. He establishes characters that are unique and recognizable so that the reader cares what is at stake when things go horribly wrong. We are presented with their flaws and their worldviews so that we can understand their actions even when we are horrified by what they do.

Check out Stephen Graham Jones’ The Only Good Indians, and all the other fantastic books on our Adult Summer Reading List, at the Sioux City Public Library.

Support for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Verde Outdoor Media.

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