Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Queer Person, by Ralph Hubbard

Firstly, many thanks to the customer on Amazon who uploaded this picture of a book identical to the jacketless copy I read. Looking this one up online, every source seems to carry the same bland summary: "Relates the experiences of an outcast deaf-mute Indian boy as he grows to adulthood and eventually becomes a great leader." Pretty unhelpful, right? It also doesn't excite very much.

The book is named for the protagonist. As a young child, this deaf-mute boy wanders into a Pikuni camp in winter. He invites himself into various dwellings as and stays until the host's patience wears thin and he is evicted. Because he cannot hear or speak, he is dubbed Queer Person and assumed to be an idiot. He is also thought to be a bad omen and cursed, so he is shunned by the people. Eventually he finds his way into the tent of a poor old crone who, while not feeling much sympathy for him, is resigned to keeping him. Granny eventually grows fond of him and finds that he does show signs of intelligence, despite his disabilities.

Over time, Queer Person develops his own routines and finds a friend or two. He also grows into manhood. During his time alone in the wilderness he has a powerful vision and is told that he will become a powerful chief. The remainder of the book shows how this happens, and how he wins the heart of the chief's daughter. The book also holds a few surprises which it does not spoil with foreshadowing. I ended up liking it much more by the end than I thought I would at the beginning, so it was a pleasant surprise!

Reading a book about Native Americans is always difficult for me. I love a good story, but on the other hand, I am also woefully ignorant about all things indigenous. Because there is so little information online about this book and its author that I could find, I have no idea what his association was with this people group or how accurate his depictions of their society was. Much of it does seem in alignment with what I could glean from Wikipedia about the traditions of the Blackfeet Confederacy so perhaps I can relax a little and be glad to have enjoyed a really good story!

Funniest part of this book: coming across the phrase G-string. I wonder if it sent 1930's children into fits of giggles like it did when I was a kid. I had no idea the phrase was so old.

Sorry for those of you who are seeing this entry in your feeds again; Blogger deleted it during routine maintenance and I've had to repost.

No comments:

Post a Comment