The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon – Tom Spanbauer

The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon(We have not discussed this in the group but it was a ‘spin off’ from one of our meetings and this review is in a personal capacity.)

Our group didn’t like this author but I did, so I have read some of his other stuff. However, this book is different and I wasn’t so keen. In fact I got bored with it quite early on.

The author claims a particular style for this book: “Dangerous writing means putting a piece of yourself in a work, going to the ‘sore spot,’ and discussing taboo topics, particularly sex and violence. It means writing for yourself, a concept that in the literary world was thought to make you go broke. It means exposing yourself to the tiger, not physically, but mentally.”

 The childhood of the chief character is well described, not least by his spelling out all the big words that he is learning. The trouble is that he continues to d this in adulthood.

He experiences American white prejudice, having to ride on the top of a stagecoach rather than inside. His sexuality is mysterious and alluring to white men.

But did he really drink a pint of whiskey in one sitting?

For all that people think of ‘Red Indians’ being primitive, there is sound wisdom in reflections about sex, that it can be mechanical but that it’s better between two people whose stories combine and whose hearts beat as one: “You make things how they are by the way you think of them,” Dellwood said.

“Tybos think it’s a sin,” Dellwood said, “—that fucking is a sin, whether men do it, or women do it, or men and women do it. Only time you can fuck is to have a child, and then it’s something you want to be over with fast.

“Most Indians love to fuck,” Dellwood said, “like they love to eat, and breathe, and take a good shit—ain’t no sin or hell damnation or fire—it’s just another part of the Great Mystery.”

The fuck part.

“In Indian,” Dellwood said, “in most tribes, if you were Berdache, folks figured that, since you weren’t like most men, and you weren’t like most women, that you were something different altogether, mean­ing somebody special, not bad. Berdache were looked up to as spiri­tual leaders and healers. Even though they usually lived alone, they weren’t outcasts. Berdache took care of children, made bread, gath­ered berries, went hunting, tanned hides; in short, did everything the men did, did everything the women did too, and sometimes even became a second wife to a man if the Berdache thought the man was worth it.

“Depended on what kind of person you were, what kind of Berd­ache you were—if you wanted to dress up as a woman and stay with the children, then that’s how you were and that’s what you did. If you lived alone, your tipi set off from the others, and were a powerful Berdache enough to call a different man to your bed each night, then that’s how you were and that’s what you did. Some Berdache were feared warriors because their medicine was so strong.

“One of the first things the Christian missionaries did to the Indian people,” Dellwood said, “once they got here, was kill the Berdache in the name of their god because the missionaries knew that if they got rid of the Berdache, they could get rid of a lot of what was Indian.

The moralising Mormons are maybe a reference to the time this book was written when, as the author says in an interview, “when fundamental Christians were trying to make homosexuals into second-class citizens. It was an initiative called Measure Nine.”

The amputation scene was gruesome.

Good quotations:

“You can’t stop people from talking. They talk and pretty soon you got a story, and what’s a human being without a story?”

“you got to consider the source…a story about a crazy man, told by crazy people should only make you wonder.”

On death and funerals: There was a big coffin and flowers and you could hear the organ and people singing the songs they do when tybos die. Music when you hear it makes you want to die too………. At our funeral, there weren’t any coffins—no money to buy coffins, no time to build them.

What gives birth to a life must sustain it.

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