Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Article: Sacagawea: The Seduction of Mythology, The Paucity of Facts by Thad Carhart

Here's an article by the Author of Across the Endless River, Thad Carhart, sent to me to post by Anna Suknov of FSB Media.  I'm in the middle of reading this book and enjoying it.  Look for my review at the end of the week along with a giveaway.

Sacagawea: The Seduction of Mythology, the Paucity of Facts
By Thad Carhart,
Author of Across the Endless River

How much do we know for certain about the life of Sacagawea? The answer is: almost nothing. She was born "around 1788." She was abducted by the Hidatsa "when she was about 12." The date of her death is similarly uncertain: the prevailing view is that she died in 1812 at Fort Manuel Lisa on the Missouri, but others contend that she lived well into her 90s and died at the Wind River Reservation in 1884. Even the pronunciation and meaning of her name are still disputed, a reflection of the unknowable transliteration that both Clark and Lewis tried to capture in written syllables.

Lewis & Clark -- The Written Record Shapes All
The most reliable primary documents that have come down to us concerning Sacagawea are, of course, the journals of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, through which she has entered the public imagination as an improbable but key player on the stage of American history. But even the journals, famed as they are, give us only fleeting glimpses of this young woman. She was one of Toussaint Charbonneau's several "squaws", a usage that covered everything from absolute servitude to common law marriage. In historical accounts, she is most frequently described as his "wife", but the fact remains that we have no way of knowing the human contours of their relationship.

The instances of her mentions in the journals are themselves full of dramatic details: a difficult labor for her first child, Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, born on February 11, 1805 in the bitter cold far-northern reaches of the Upper Missouri; her dire illness and near death in June of that year, when Lewis dosed her attentively from his meager medicine kit; her vote as an equal member of the expedition about the location of their winter camp once they reached the Pacific; her insistence at being allowed to accompany the party dispatched by Clark to the shore of the Pacific to investigate what meat might be recovered from a beached whale.

All of these scenes have survived in the clear and dispassionate prose of the two captains, and while they offer tantalizing glimpses of how Sacagawea reacted under pressure, they of course come from the pens of those whose business it was to give the expedition shape in daily journals. While history is indeed written by the conquerors, perhaps here it would be more apt to say that history is first written by those who can write. How would she have described the captains? Nothing certain remains from Sacagawea's oral tradition, so the accounts of those whose language included an alphabet were bound to prevail.

Sacagawea, Repository of Legends
Even so, the degree to which the slender and infrequent mentions of Sacagawea in the Lewis & Clark journals have subsequently been weighed down with meaning is astounding. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, and gathering steam well into the twentieth, there developed an elaborate literature of wonder, almost of awe, around her being. She has come to represent resilience, courage, patience, loving motherhood, feminine independence . . . the list is virtually endless. It has been said that more images of her adorn public places than that of any other American woman. The latest iteration of her imagined likeness, the young mother bearing her papoose who graces the U.S. dollar coin, is as close as American culture is ever likely to come to an indigenous Madonna and Child.

And yet most of this is pure fabrication, a projection of our own changing needs and perceptions of the past. I am reminded of the elaborate hagiography that has built up in France around Joan of Arc, just enough of it based on the startling and dramatic facts of her life to lay the groundwork for a complete mythology. In that sense, Lewis & Clark is our own founding myth, and the individual actors in its story assume the proportions of legend as we embroider the fragile facts we have with our own imaginings. Sacagawea dances around the edges of the narrative: innocent, strong, pure of heart, and ultimately unknowable, an undying receptacle for our dreams about both past and future. The beaten and abducted young squaw stands alongside the mother of a mixed-race son, the determined woman who saved Lewis & Clark from failure by bargaining for horses with the tribe from which she had been torn. Could any refracted image we fashion to express our hopes be more ambiguous, or more captivating?

©2009 Thad Carhart, author of Across the Endless River

Author Bio
Thad Carhart, author of Across the Endless River, is a dual citizen of of the United States and Ireland. He lives in Paris with his wife, the photographer Simo Neri, and their two children.

For more information please visit www.thadcarhart.com

Review and Giveaway - The Sugarless Plum by Zippora Karz

The Sugarless Plum The Sugarless Plum by Zippora Karz

My rating: 4.75/5.0

Publisher: Harlequin
Binding: Hardcover
Release Date: November 1, 2009
Pages: 288

I received this book from Caitlin Price with FSB Media for review.

I am really starting to enjoy memoirs - I have gone from being a straight fiction reader, to reading non-fiction and enjoying it. This is just one of the things that reviewing books has done for me.

My Review:

The Sugarless Plum was a very enjoyable memoir of the life of Zippora Karz while she was growing up and in the New York City Ballet dealing with Type-1 Diabetes. It was a fascinating look inside the life of a ballerina. I had no idea what all they go through during the day and how many performances they do. I have never been to a ballet myself since I live in a small town, so I really didn't know much about it. This book has shed light on the ballet world and has made me very interested in it.

This look at Zippy's life is amazing and inspiring. How she plows through it all while dealing with a life-altering illness is amazing. The book is very uplifting and honest. It read like a fiction novel in that it never lost pace and kept me wanting to know more and more about Zippy page after page.

Entertaining, enlightening and very inspiring, this is a wonderful book that almost anyone would enjoy.

About the Book:
For dancer Zippora Karz, a rising young star with the famed New York City Ballet, being diagnosed with diabetes could easily have ended all her dreams. She was just twenty-one when she was plucked from the corps de ballet to dance solo roles like the Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker. It was near the end of a grueling season when she became exhausted, dizzy, and excessively thirsty. Heavy pancake makeup covered the sores under her arms that would not heal, but still Karz neglected to return her doctor s urgent calls. When she finally went to the doctor, she learned that her blood sugar was excessively high. If she continued to ignore her symptoms, Karz risked heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and amputation of toes, feet, and legs. Because she was over twenty, doctors misdiagnosed her with Type 2 diabetes, when in fact she had juvenile (or Type 1) diabetes. Her weight dropped and she became dangerously ill as a result of being prescribed the wrong treatment. Once correctly diagnosed and placed on an insulin regimen, she would inject herself with unsafe doses before going on stage in ill-judged attempts to obtain peak performance. The potentially fatal result of Karz s self-experimentation became all too real when she nearly put herself into a coma.

Balancing ballet and her blood sugar would be a long and difficult struggle for Karz, but eventually she learned to value her body and work with it, rather than rage at its limitations. In The Sugarless Plum, Karz shares her journey from denial, shame and mis-education about her illness to how she lead an active, balanced, and satisfying life as an insulin-dependent diabetic and ballet star. Through her fascinating story, those struggling with diabetes and other serious illnesses can find encouragement and inspiration as well as practical advice on achieving physical and emotional wellness.

After sixteen years with the New York City Ballet, Karz retired and took her passion and skills into a whole new arena as a diabetes educator and advocate, where today she inspires people to not just manage their illness, but to thrive and fulfill their passions. The Sugarless Plum takes readers deep into the heart and soul of a young dancer, and is a remarkable testament to determination and perseverance.

I would like to giveaway my copy of this book - it's hardcover, and it gently used shape.  It's a wonderful book and I would love to share it.  To enter simply leave a comment with your email address.  Giveaway open Internationally this time.  Giveaway will end on 11/10.

For additional entries (you can put these all in one post - I'll count them up):
  • Follow me on blogger, rss feed, email, twitter (+3 for each you do)
  • Tweet about this giveaway (put @cfulcher so I'll see it) (+3 per day)
  • Blog about this giveaway (sidebar is fine) (+5)
  • Tell me a memoir you have read that you really enjoyed (+5)


Teaser Tuesday - November 3


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Her stomach tightened.  Sooner or later she was bound to run into him.  She had no idea what he might say to her or what she might say to him, but maybe facing Joe was part of the reason she had come back.
From The Christmas Clock by Kat Martin

Giveaway - Two Tote Bags from Carol North

In honor of the interview and review series I am collaborating on with Martha from Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf and Surmanam from I Read . . . Carol North, the author of two books we're spotlighting will be giving away two totebags, one for each lucky winner.

Our schedule looks like this:

Totebag Giveaway starts - 11/2
Part 1 of Interview with Carol at Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf- 11/2
Martha's Review of Love's Reflection - 11/3
Part 2 of Interview with Carol here at my blog- 11/4
My Review of Love's Reflection 11/4
Surmanam's Review of  - 11/5
Part 3 of Interview with Carol at I Read . . . - 11/6
Part 4 of Interview with Carol at Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf- 11/10
Martha's Review of  - 11/10
Tote Giveaway ends - 11/13

The actual totebag giveaway takes place on Martha's Blog, so go enter here.  Extra entries can be obtained by posting comments on our reviews and interviews so there are a total of 8 entries available.  I'll give you a peak at these great totes that Carol has so graciously offered as prizes.

Come back also for my interview and review and be sure to check out Martha and Surmanam's reviews and interviews also.  Carol is a great author and I look forward to reading more of her books.