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Mark Olival-Bartley studied applied linguistics at Hawaii Pacific University, attaining B.A. and M.A. degrees in Teaching English as a Second Language, and poetry at the City College of New York. He is now writing a dissertation on the sonnets of E. A. Robinson at LMU, where he tutors composition alongside editing flyers on poetry and style. His poems and translations have appeared in journals on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the resident poet at EcoHealth, where his science-themed verse is regularly featured, and a senior copyeditor at Review of International American Studies. He also teaches at Münchner Volkshochschule and leads the Amerikahaus Literaturkreis.


Amerikahaus Literary Circle: 1 June 2016

Son of the Morning Star: 
General Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn 

by Evan S. Connell

1.  Did you enjoy the book?  What were its lasting impressions? 

2.  Evan S. Connell was more practiced at writing fiction and poetry than non-fiction; indeed, his history of the Battle of the Little Bighorn is not written chronologically.  How is the book organized?  What are the upsides (and downsides) of having a novelist pen a chronicle of such a famous event as this?

3.  Contrast the armies:  The U.S. Seventh Calvary had an extraordinarily high rate of desertion whereas the Plains Tribes had the ritual of the Sun Dance; the Indians were protecting their homes whereas the Americans were motivated extrinsically by thoughts of glory and gold.  What other contrasts struck you as noteworthy?

4.  Who among the many, many characters and which among their many, many anecdotes fascinated you?  (For example, the image of Sitting Bull signing autographs in Brooklyn's Coney Island, for me, is utterly surreal.)

5.  Connell underscores the point that Canadians, by and large, honored their treaties with Indians—thereby resulting in very little violence.  By contrast, the Americans broke treaties—as in the search for gold in the Black Hills—time and time again.  How does this inform our present-day notions of the U.S. government's trustworthiness?

6.  Look at the two paintings on the back of this page:  What do you see?

"The Battle of Little Bighorn" by Edgar Paxson, 1899

"The Battle of Little Bighorn" by Chief Kicking Bear, 1898

Upcoming Meetings & Titles

6 July 2016:  A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
5 October 2016:  The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger 
2 November 2016:  Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
14 December 2016:  The Moons of Jupiter by Alice Munro

Free and open to the public, the AHLC is a book club that (usually) meets on the first Wednesday of the month.  For more information, visit amerikahaus.de; to join the e-mail list, contact Mark Olival-Bartley at olivalbartley@gmail.com.

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