You get the antlers.
Of course, in my usual fashion, I am always catching up with the most talked-about best reads. I remember “The Only Good Indians” by Stephen Graham Jones being on our New Books shelf and always passing by it wanting to read it and finally had some downtime to do so. A little overview from Simon and Schuster:
From New York Times, bestselling author Stephen Graham Jones comes a novel that is equal parts psychological horror and cutting social commentary on identity politics and the American Indian experience. Fans of Jordan Peele and Tommy Orange will love this story as it follows the lives of four American Indian men and their families, all haunted by a disturbing, deadly event that took place in their youth. Years later, they find themselves tracked by an entity bent on revenge, totally helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind to catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.
The first chapter hits you straight on and wastes no time getting the ball rolling. From the jump, you are introduced to these characters, and the horror follows. As you get to know these 4 Native Americans, you understand they are trying to evade something. It’s either not wanting to be on the reservation, running away from loss, trying to escape the stereotypes associated with Native people, and that day when they crossed a line. And everything took a turn.
But the horror that took place that day, Mama took her time. She brewed in her emotions of what happened and unleashed her wrath nearing the 10th anniversary.
Jones weaves life on the reservation and Native traditions from various narratives, giving the reader a detailed inside view. As the reader, you start to understand these men, their lives, and their choices. You sometimes can relate, whether it be your own life story or someone close to you. One aspect that I loved so much is how Jones details this malevolence after these men, but also the other demons and horror that you face internally and what life naturally throws at you.
What he also does so grotesquely beautiful is what happens when you break from tradition. These men went out and did something they were strictly banned from and messed with one of the most sacred bonds: The bond between mother and child.
When I was reading, the two pop culture references that came to my head were Final Destination and SAW. And honestly, at times, I would look up from the book and stare into the dark of my living room and hoping I don’t see any antlers coming in the distance.