What an amazingly beautiful, horrible, unforgettable novel filled with all the Native American sense of tragedy, loss, and humor so prominent in the works of Sherman Alexi.
What’s it about? Revenge mostly, and girls’ basketball both as forms of redemption. But this isn’t about humans’ revenge against each other, race against race or one gender against the other. This is about the brutal, unforgiving revenge of one mother elk against the four young men who killed her when she was with calf. She and the calf and other members of the herd all died. And yet she was reborn as Elk Woman, a horrible presence that haunts the men responsible for her death until they are driven to killing each other and the women they love.
The author’s powers of description are overwhelming, especially, believe it or not, when he describes the final showdown between elk woman and the child (calf) of the last of the men who killed her. It takes place on an outdoor basketball court. The middle school superstar doesn’t know that her father and his friend and his girl and the local sheriff and his son are all mutilated, killed in a frenzy of misunderstanding by her own father, who was then forced to take his own life. The girl doesn’t know that Elk woman wants to kill her too. She just thinks it’s a challenge game that goes on endlessly.
This book will leave you shattered, but full of new insight and understanding not only of the tragedies of the Native American experience but of all species which are forced to live together in this challenging world where survival means killing and brutal revenge is, in the end, far from the final answer.