Terese Marie Mailhot, Heart Berries

As a reviewer, I say that you should believe the hype. Terese Marie Mailhot's Heart Berries is a stunning book. Personally and professionally, I was kind of stunned by the conflict at Harvard over this book: the student paper published an amateurish and ignorant review, and a group of faculty replied with a comprehensive and expert takedown. (I've only linked to the takedown. The review doesn't deserve your time, so go find it yourself if you want the extra background.)

Mailhot's prose is deeply poetic, without ever reaching after unhelpfully but prettily mystic phrasing. Her self-analysis is sharp, flinching in all the places that it should flinch when you're working incredibly hard to survive, before ever getting toward understanding yourself and what's happened to you. She's talking Indian such that it makes sense to other Indians (her words, not mine!), exercising the craft of writing in virtuoso ways so well as to obscure just how intensely crafted this book is.

As a reader, it's not for me, and I'm more than okay with that. I'm a middle-aged white dude: some amazing books aren't for me. More than that, amazing books shouldn't be made less amazing just so they make more sense to people like me.


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