Becoming Story: A Journey among Seasons, Places, Trees, and Ancestors

Becoming Story: A Journey among Seasons, Places, Trees, and Ancestors
Hardcover, 5 x 7, 240 pages.
ISBN: 9781597145671.

By Greg Sarris

For the first time in more than twenty-five years, Greg Sarris—whose novels are esteemed alongside those of Louise Erdrich and Stephen Graham Jones—presents a book about his own life. In Becoming Story he asks: What does it mean to be truly connected to the place you call home—to walk where innumerable generations of your ancestors have walked? And what does it mean when you dedicate your life to making that connection even deeper? Moving between his childhood and the present day, Sarris creates a kaleidoscopic narrative about the forces that shaped his early years and his eventual work as a tribal leader. He considers the deep past, historical traumas, and possible futures of his homeland. His acclaimed storytelling skills are in top form here, and he charts his journey in prose that is humorous, searching, and profound. A gently powerful memoir, Becoming Story is also a master class in the art of belonging to the place where you live.

Reviews

"Sarris’ Northern California landscapes are sacred texts, peopled with elk, pronghorn, osprey, and lizards. Traversing different lives, Becoming Story is a heartfelt contemplation of one man’s decades-long journey of returning home." San Francisco Book Review
"Sarris recounts the hard-won knowledge of Coast Miwok, Pomo, and other Indigenous peoples. He also imagines a possible future in which at least some Native lands are restored to their pre-contact health and serve as models for what the world might learn from Indigenous peoples, if it’s not too late to put such lessons to use." M.T. Hartnell, Alta
"Sarris gathers from gossip, myth, dreams and science to investigate the imperishable power of story itself and how it helps us locate and claim a sense of home. [...] In clean, thoughtful prose with jewellike detail — whether pondering Yosemite, his childhood babysitter, a secret cave or the oak tree outside his house — these meditations enchant." Joan Frank, San Francisco Chronicle
"A fascinating and evocative memoir in essays." Kirkus, starred review
"Greg Sarris's resonant memoir explores identities, heritages, and the legacies of places. [...] The book details California's troubled history of European conquest, Manifest Destiny, and the suppression and subversion of Indigenous ways of life. It laments that the state's mystical, resourceful Indigenous cultures were invaded by Spanish rancheros in the 1800s, after which California's environmental harmony began to suffer. [...] Testifying to the impacts of people on the land, the powerful memoir Becoming Story lauds the power of language when it comes to leaving tracks for others to follow." Foreword Reviews
"Like Sherman Alexie and Oakland author Tommy Orange, Sarris has portrayed Native American life in a non-romantic, realistic way in his past work. Becoming Story maintains this, but also takes on a more dreamlike quality, as Sarris evokes memories from his past and incorporates landscape, weaving them into a whole narrative." Kary Hess, The Bohemian
"In Sarris's latest work, Becoming Story, he invites us into an intimate and communal California Indian world. Part memoir, part history, part ethnography, the work has echoes of Momaday's The Way to Rainy Mountain. He shares, with refreshing honesty, his family roots—their depths and dislocations, as well as the their strong sinews that the forces of settler colonialism and American genocide could not sever. His narrative reminds us that the roots of our tribal identities "remember" and, ultimately, restore(y) us." Theresa Gregor, Professor of American Indian Studies
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About the Author

Greg Sarris

Greg Sarris

Greg Sarris is an award-winning author and tribal leader serving his fifteenth consecutive term as Chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. He received his Ph.D. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University and has taught as a professor of Creative Writing and American and American Indian Literatures. His books include Becoming Story, How a Mountain Was Madeand Grand Avenue, which was adapted into an HBO miniseries. Visit his website at greg-sarris.com.

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