In 1860 Comanches gang-raped, tortured and killed Martha Sherman, nine months pregnant and living with her husband in Parker County, Texas. Twenty-four-year-old Charles Goodnight joined a posse of Texas Rangers and Seventh Cavalry soldiers who pursued her assailants, and before doing battle with any Indians, he found a pillowcase with Sherman’s Bible in it. Why had the Comanches taken the book when they fled their victim’s cabin? S. C. Gwynne writes in Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall the the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History(Scribner, 2011), a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer prize for general nonfiction:
“According to Goodnight, Comanche shields, made of two layers of the toughest rawhide from the neck of a buffalo and hardened in fire, were almost invulnerable to bullets when stuffed with paper. When Comanches robbed houses, they invariably took all the books they could find.”
A review of Empire of the Summer Moon will appear soon on this site.
Delete Key Awards Finalist #7 – From Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian:
Yes, Alexie won the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for this novel. And, yes, it’s possible that this line has an inner logic discernible only to teenagers. But the rest of us may wonder: Why does this line have five S’s and six P’s instead of six S’s and five P’s? Why does it have eight A’s and ten G’s instead of ten A’s and eight G’s? What, exactly, is the logic behind this manic sequence of letters? Does it help to know that it’s supposed to sound like “a 747 is landing on a runway of vomit”? Or that in the book the letters take up two lines (without punctuation) instead of one? The letters seem intended as onomatopoeia, but their arrangement is so random, you wonder if Alexie’s space bar just got stuck.
This line suggests how the language of e-mail – or perhaps Hollywood screenplays – is infecting novels for all ages. Will we someday get a novel written entirely in emoticons?
The ten Delete Key Awards finalists are being numbered but announced in random order.
(c) 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.