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Boozhoo

Boozhoo (Boo)

Owner of Heid

"Hunger knows no season," Tom Weso tells us in the wonderful stories of food and Menominee life found in Good Seeds: A Menominee Indian Food Memoir. We hear tender tales of elders' morning meals, gathering partridge eggs, learning to hunt, and delightful stories within stories- There was this guy on the rez with a huge appetite who could sit down and eat an entire deer. People did not like hunting with him. But Menominee cooking is a fusion: Weso tells us of older Menominee relatives went to Kansas for school and "to avoid religion" but eventually returned. With recipes. New traditions meld with indigenous ingredients of Wisconsin to create a tasty heritage. This is a delightful memoir in recipes. We learn that in Weso's youth, a meal for his Menominee family took an entire year to plan. Eating with the seasons you get wild game, fish, maple, berries, squash and other delectables. But you only get them once a year. It is this sustaining way of life that Weso narrates for us in Good Seeds, but it is also about transitions to diner food and Fair fare. These stories and recipes make us appreciate the past, make us long for woods and waters today, and make us just plain hungry.


We dogs are good with tone, so I know the tone of The Road Back to Sweetgrass by Linda LeGarde Grover--it is at once comforting and solemn. This voice says that even though the tale will have dark and cold moments, we will all find ourselves comfortable and warm in the end. But there's more to it than that--this voice says we will find ourselves more human, too. Or more dog, from my point of view. In any case, I'd love to tell the author how much I enjoyed this book. But if you read the back of Linda LeGarde Grover's debut novel, you will see that my human Heid got there first. She says: History, humanity and humor—these things always impress me when I read Linda LeGarde Grover’s fiction. In this deeply moving and healing book, we are drawn into a communally told story that shows generations violently separated, yet held together by the cord of place and culture and by many, many acts of love.


Any music but opera is fine by me. You can tell my people came of age in the late 70's and early 80's by the songs they hum and that ridiculous yodeling they enact to mimic guitar solos. Occasionally I take a few steps backward and bark when that gets out of hand. I never really understood their passion for the classic rock until I read Eric Gansworth's, If I Ever Get Out of Here.

Set on a New York State reservation and narrated by an adolescent male, you can practically hear a sound track as you read. Each chapter uses a title derived from a rock classic song as a clever map to the movement of the whole. And it is the music itself that bonds the narrator to his first real friend from outside his culture and family. In this novel, music is a life line, the rungs of a ladder that gets the young protagonist out of his poverty, alienation, sexual longing, and cultural confusion--but in ways we might not expect.

A rare Young Adult novel dealing with life on a reservation, If I Ever Get Out of Here hits that authentic note of yearning that characterizes our first adult days. But the story and characters are also complex enough for adult audiences--even though it will evoke squimmish nostalgia for some of us. At least we can rock out. Rock out of here.


With In the Middle of Many Mountains, Nahal Suzanne Jamir debuts as a fiction author of great strength. Jamir presents male and female, adult and child narrators with diverse voices. Her characters are immigrants and their children or unspecified Americans. When the narrator of the first story insists, “I listen to the world, I really do,” we do not doubt it, although there’s a touch of the surreal in each of Jamir’s stories. Her surreal, however, is closer to a near-real expression of the absurd or dislocating, and her deft handling of the fine line between the two marks this collection as original and rare. Imagine Persian folktales retold as prosaic bar jokes: a hundred birds walk into a bar. Or deadpan professors who believe they are Norse gods. Or a new species of monkey jumping up out of a newspaper to help a sleep-deprived father save his daughter. The effect is surprising and yet convincing — we are seeing the world through decidedly new, focused and multiple lenses in Jamir’s writing.

Read Heid's full StarTribune review of In the Middle of Many Mountains.


Sometimes the people I live with refer to me as Truffle Hunter because I snuffle loudly. I think they've figured out that I cannot hunt mushrooms, but at least I can tell them about Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms by Eugenia Bone. Yes, the author's name did attract me, as did the fantastically beautiful cover art--mushroom botanicals. The book takes us on a passionate exploration of the world of mushrooms and mushroom hunters. We learn that fungi (never pronounced FUN GUY, but FUN GHEE) dominate life on this planet. Fungi live within and on all of us and their powers rival science fiction. Note to mention their tastiness, which is, apparently, a plot. Enjoy!


So what if I am spayed? I can still enjoy Naomi Wolf's new book Vagina: a Biography. Author of The Beauty Myth and Mis(Con)Ceptions, Wolf is such a good writer, I'd like to claim her as canine. Yet even her rigorous research cannot, forgive, me, fully penetrate the mystery of the "Goddess" as Wolf calls it. Sure, there are a lot of medical terms and even some unsexy drawings, but somehow, learning the neural pathways that orgasms has only made the lady parts seem more wonderful and magical and unknowable--the way Wolf writes it. My lady, my actual human lady, was reading this aloud to her man and he, too, seemed in awe of all Wolf has illuminated in this deeply personal, but scientifically informed, love song to female anatomy. Really, who knew? That is what I heard her saying to herself as she read. And I agree, this book will illuminate and amaze and leave both male and female wondering how it is we live our whole lives in the flesh and know so little about it.

Oh, and, yes, you can buy this as a gift--it has a discreet and humorous cover with a peek-a-boo design. Fun!


Sometimes the people I live with refer to me as Truffle Hunter because I snuffle loudly. I think they've figured out that I cannot hunt mushrooms, but at least I can tell them about Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms by Eugenia Bone. Yes, the author's name did attract me, as did the fantastically beautiful cover art--mushroom botanicals. The book takes us on a passionate exploration of the world of mushrooms and mushroom hunters. We learn that fungi (never pronounced FUN GUY, but FUN GHEE) dominate life on this planet. Fungi live within and on all of us and their powers rival science fiction. Note to mention their tastiness, which is, apparently, a plot. Enjoy!


Well, naturally I thought the title of this book, Food Rules, was meant as a cheer: Food Rules! That is not the case, and if my people take this book to heart, there may be fewer cheezeo bits to snuffle off the floor, but still I love this book. This slender volume is created by two of my favorites: illustrator/author Mairia Kalman who paints dogs (remember Max Makes A Million?) and Michael Pollan, the brainy food activist/writer who brought us The Omnivore's Dilemma. I thought the food thing, plus the dog-painter thing, PLUS Michael Pollan, cannot go wrong. Pollan collected his food rules by asking folks to send them to him, then he published an earlier book, then folks had more rules and Mairia Kalman had some paintings of cheezeo boxes and donuts—hence a new edition. The book is divided into three sections that are actually questions accompanied by answers: What should I eat? (Eat Food). You get the idea. Great gift. Funny, beautiful, profound, and useful. Food Rules!


This dog's life is lived amongst clutter. Yes, I'm a small dog living with a collector. She loves art and books--her kids love rocks, shells, bark, bug husks. Now all the kid's stuff is great to smell and the bug husks are crunchy, but the art she keeps out of my reach. Still, I sense an order arising: she likes art by indigenous women. Even the stuff without feathers and nary a howling coyote (my cousins) to be seen! She would want to read Art in Our Lives--Native Women Artists in Dialogue by Cynthia Chavez Lamar and Sherry Farrell Racette. Honestly, I'd rather she read about indigenous women's art than collect it because 1) it is cheaper and 2) books such as Art in Our Lives are more rare. That's right, there is so very, very little written or published about Native American women's art that a book like this is a collector's item already. And it is pretty--with art plates and awesome dialogue. It also includes one of her favorite new artists: Dyani Reynolds-White Hawk. Come to think of it, Heid was carrying around one of Dyani's little paintings just the other day...I can smell it up there...let me see: Just as I suspected, no wolves, no rabbits, even. But my how lovely!


Suddenly everything has smell again and the ground is beginning to thaw. I sniff everything, it is like one vast newspaper out there! I am learning so much--so much information in the old leaves, trunks of trees, along the lake... I am almost too distracted by the possibility of SPRING to read, but in the bleak months just past I did pick up The Information by James Gleick. Woof. What a book! We think of information as discreet, abstract, but Gleick asks us to think of it as a single force. Revolutionary. It's a big old book, beautifully made and an excellent sniff--that nice paper smell--but it is a challenge. I mean what do I know about Godel's theorem? And cybernetics and binary and telegraphs? It will take me a while to worry this one to the bone, after all, I'm just a terrier.


My humans were not watching and I got ahold of their copy of The Assassination of Hole-in-the-Day by Anton Treuer. Usually, I have no interest in history, but Heid came home late one night after a Birchbark Books reading and rather than letting me snuggle up while she watched CNN, she flopped into bed with the book. Well, I had to know what had taken my time with Heid! Turns out the Ojibwe dandy on the book's cover was a real man who lived over one hundred years ago and who changed the way Minnesotans live today. The author, Anton Treuer, is also an Ojibwe man who is changing the way Minnesotans, and all others, are thinking of history. Don't let the fact this is history fool you, the book reads like a novel, a murder mystery at that! That Hole-in-the-Day was quite a character. He had a lot of wives. I'm sure he had some interesting dogs, too. Oops, gotta go, Heid is searching under the bed for her book while I quietly type this...Yours, as always, Dear Reader.


Did she say BOO or BOOts?

My human was all excited and at first I thought it had something to do with me, however, upon closer listening I realized that a rare thing had happened, Heid had enjoyed some fiction! Here's what she said about Linda LeGarde Grover's award-winning new collection of stories:

"The powerful Ojibwe women in Linda LeGarde Grover's The Dance Boots tell stories in 'the rhythm and pattern of repeating and echoing, re-echoing and returning,' the pattern that keeps them strong. They need to be strong in the face of a terrible monster, one no less ferocious than those in Ojibwe traditional tales, one that steals children and returns them altered, alien, broken: the boarding schools. These are stories of survival as well, and as we follow the rhythm of her narrative we find ourselves joining the dance of a culture resurgent, a dance that returns lost children, that begins to heal a world."

Boo is hoping this LeGarde Grover woman wears boots when she visits Birchbark Books on September 17th to debut her Flannery O'Connor Award winning book. Boo will want to take a good, long, snuffling sniff on these boots!


Generally, I'm a quiet lap dog. But there's one thing that really grrrs me. At night, in summer, IT wakes me. Then I cannot contain myself, but startle the entire household: GUH-GUH-GRRRRR! My human family stumbles out to flash their light on IT. Then they laugh at the staggering intruder, lolling on the garage roof, stained with fermented mullberries. I am not amused.

Humans, however will enjoy The Raccoon and the Bee Tree by Charles A. Eastman and Elaine Goodale Eastman. With lively illustrations by Susan Turnbull, the book is ideal for the beginning reader (or the read-to). Originally included in a 1909 book of Dakota tales, Wigwam Evenings, by Charles Eastman and Elaine Goodale Eastman, the story is reborn a hundred years later. A tale of tempting honey (I'd rather snap at bees myself) and the dangers of rowdy behavior (I am, as I've said, a restrained creature---except toward raccoons) this is a story as timeless as it is sweet.


Boo is an indiscriminate reader. Anything and everything goes. For this reason she recommends Foyle's Further Philavery, a treasury of unusual words, collected by Christopher Foyle. Everybody needs a word that nobody else knows! A fabulous vocabulary is the wardrobe of the mind. To define "scunner", "fabiform", "lollop", and "litten", turn to Foyle's Further Philavery.