Book review: Food and Spirits, by Beth Brant

Cover of Food and SpiritsBrant, Beth. Food and Spirits Firebrand Books, 1991. Paper. $8.95. (ISBN 0-032379-92-3) Hardcover. $18.95. (ISBN 0-932379-93-1)

In the eight stories that make up Food and Spirits, gifted Native American writer Beth Brant gives the reader journeys home. Home is a physical or a spiritual place to the characters in these moving stories.

Violet of ‘Wild Turkeys” returns to her hometown of Fairview, Michigan to difficult memories of an abusive marriage, memories of her mother’s legends, and new friends. In “Food and Spirits” Elijah decides to take a trip to Detroit to visit his beloved twin granddaughters. He brings his home in his soul and in a bag of fry cake and fish to people he meets on his journey across the Canadian border. ”This Place” is the most difficult story in Beth Brant’s collection. A young man returns from his life as a gay man in a large city to the reservation where he was born. ”David came home because he was dying.” David thought he could either be a gay man or a Native American, but never both, so he left one part of himself to live with half of himself. The story describes healing rituals and family relationships at the end of David’s life.

Beth Brant’s Food and Spirits can be highly recommended for public or academic libraries with short story collections, collections on Native American culture, collections of writings by Native Americans, or Women’s Studies collections. It is an excellent work.

Reviewed by Lisa N. Johnson
Sweet Briar College
Sweet Briar, Virginia

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