House Made of Dawn

   Sometimes you need to re-read classics in order to find the next thing. Thumbing through N. Scott Momaday's 1969 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, House Made of Dawn, we are reminded there are many gems found in mining personal experience in order to tell a larger story.

   N. Scott Momaday has said that he had the idea for his first novel "for a long time" and that Abel's story, descriptions of the Southwestern landscape, references to legend and ritual, and specific events in the novel had their origins in the author's own childhood experiences and observations while living on reservations in Arizona and New Mexico as well as in his father's repeated stories.

   House Made of Dawn is one of those novels in which the telling of the story is as important as the story itself, and Momaday clearly drew on a variety of models -- from Kiowa storytellers and Navajo chanters to William Faulkner -- to tell his story. Vernon Lattin, in American Literature, has pointed out that the novel is both "a return to the sacred art of storytelling and mythmaking that is part of the Indian oral tradition" and a bid "to push the secular mode of modern fiction into the sacred mode, a faith and recognition in the power of the word."