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Skins Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1st edition (May 30, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517799588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517799581
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,865,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The title of this accomplished first novel by Native American poet Louis is short for "redskins," a common term reservation Indians use for themselves. Set on the Pine Ridge Reservation (S.D.) where the author makes his home, the book tells the story of Rudy Yellow Shirt. Rudy's job, as a tribal policeman, is to protect the Oglala that inhabit the "rez" from themselves, and he's reaching the end of his tether. His marriage has fallen apart, the medicine he takes for high blood pressure has ruined his sex life and his rowdy, alcoholic brother Mogie is constantly in trouble with the law. Rudy's fed up with the spousal beatings, the alcohol and the drugs he confronts in his daily routine ("all major crimes" are the province of the FBI). But everything changes when a knock on the noggin suffered while chasing a suspect causes unusual side effects for the weary cop. First, his sexual prowess returns with more vigor than he bargained for. It also brings out Rudy's alter ego, the "Avenging Warrior," a vigilante bent on dispensing rough justice beyond the bounds of the law. First, he knee-caps a couple of punks who brutally sodomized and murdered a young boy. Then he moves on to torching a liquor store on the reservation border. The question then becomes whether Rudy will be able to achieve the reintegration of self and the comity in personal relations that elude much of Indian society. Employing an incisive blend of satire, fantasy and grim realism, and aided by a good eye for detail and an ear for natural dialogue, Louis presents a picture of contemporary Native American life that is often as funny and warm as it is disturbing.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Although this novel addresses issues of unemployment, domestic violence, and drug and alcohol addiction as they pertain to American Indians, it is ultimately a tale of two brothers, Rudy and Mogie Yellow Shirt, whose love is the only constant through their tumultuous lives. The brothers carry the baggage of their family's alcoholism and abuse, but react differently. Rudy gains a college education and becomes a policeman on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation; Mogie lacks ambition and succumbs to the destructive cycle his parents and grandparents began. After tripping and hitting his head on a rock, Rudy releases a kind of alter ego, a vigilante "avenging warrior." Retribution and removal of negative temptations (namely, alcohol) are his means to save his people. Tremendously tragic and, unfortunately, highly realistic, this book could easily be another indictment of white people and a reminder of the human capacity to destroy and oppress. Yet, Louis somehow transcends simple blame by examining the many causes, including those self-induced and self-perpetuated, of the serious hardships facing American Indians today. Janet St. John

More About the Author

A half-breed Indian, Adrian C. Louis was born and raised in northern Nevada and is an enrolled member of the Lovelock Paiute Tribe. From 1984-97, Louis taught at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota. He is the author of twelve books of poems and two works of fiction and is currently Professor of English at Minnesota State University in Marshall. His most recent collection of poems, Savage Sunsets was published by West End Press in September 2012. For more info, go to www.Adrian-C-Louis.com

See trailer for new book here: http://vimeo.com/45367747

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I re-read this book often and wish the author had more on the shelf.
mindy r
Also worth watching is the film "Skins" (2002, available on DVD), which is based on the book.
Ronald Scheer
The characters are well-crafted & the story itself is off the charts!
L. V. Sage

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Scheer on November 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
Poet, short story writer, and former journalist, Adrian Louis presents a harshly comic vision of Indian life in this novel set on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwest South Dakota. He immerses the reader in a compelling mix of Indian and white cultures and the resulting ambiguities, competing worldviews, and conflicted values.

Rudy, the Indian cop, portrays these confusing conflicts beautifully, representing both the law in his tribal police uniform and vigilante justice in his blackface and pantyhose mask. Revealing other dimensions of Rudy's confusion, Louis explores his relationship to the women in his life. Married and estranged from his wife, Rudy indulges his growing attraction to his cousin's wife, Stella, while he carries on with other men's wives as well. Meanwhile, afflicted with hypertension, he takes meds that affect his sexual performance, and much of the novel traces the rising and falling cycles of his libido, all of which are unpredictable and seemingly under the spell of forces beyond him. It is significant that Iktomi, the trickster spirit and shape-shifter, is a central theme in the novel, for appearance and reality, wisdom and stupidity, pride and shame, love and rage are all in a continuing dance for dominance.

Also at the center of the story is Rudy's relationship with his alcoholic older brother, Mogey. While casting an unblinking eye on the devastating impact of alcohol consumption on the reservation, Louis both condemns and forgives those who seek oblivion in the bottom of the bottle. In his hands, Mogey is a wonderful creation. While there are vague allusions to the grim effect of two tours of duty in Vietnam, Louis doesn't excuse Mogey for choosing his path of self-destruction.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 10, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Adrian Louis is a genius! I could NOT put this book down! I even snuck it into work with me.
It is sad, funny, gut-wretching, sweet---it has it all! If you don't thoroughly enjoy this book--CHECK YOUR PULSE!!!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By tbegay@jhsph.edu on February 5, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is a hardcore book of life on the rez. It is so accurate that I can only catorgize Louis's writting as "Brilliant". I highly recommed this book and guarentee that this will leave you craving for more!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By taos@cnetech.com on April 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Although this book hit home in all the problems of society, (ie, alcoholism, abuse, etc) there was some good indian humor. Being raised on a "rez" I was able to relate to the story. Some of the characters in the book are on my rez. Recommend it to all.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 28, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Admittedly, I couldn't put the book down and read it in a week. Even thought the novel is a work of fiction, it hits closer to the truth about Rez born and raised Indians than any other novel that "mystifies" Indians in the "butterflies and daisies" sense. Fact of the matter is, Rez life is hard, damn hard. There are many casualties in this novel. First and foremost: the dishonor caused by CENTURIES of abuse and the systematic extermination of Indians have produced a culture of people who love hard, live hard, drink hard, die hard, and hate even harder. And, the central common theme...even to those who refuse to see it is the Indian's hate of the white man. Rudy clearly has little use for most of the everyday characters he comes across. He has disdain for most of his fellow Indian police officers, his Indian boss and his Indian friends. He has no respect for Indian drunks, and loathes how the economically oppressed culture has turned Indian kids into violent drug users and thugs with little respect and no hope. Socrates surmised "all questions lead to God". On the Rez, all ills lead to the white man.
This hate is the saddest legacy that American's have cultivated from the abuses that have, and CONTINUE to be bestowed upon the red man. Most whites in America are not deserved of this hate. I think it is puzzling to many white American's why Indians continue to hate them, even though many white people have never even met an Indian, and are totally unaware of the abuses that continue to happen at the hands of the government, or greedy entrepreneurs.
The last insult of the book that disturbed me the most, was the consciences crafting of hatred and callous death and destruction to the most despised Indians that exist to most western tribes, whites of mixed Cherokee ancestry.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nico1908 on August 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book has a sheer raw gripping power that takes hold of you, drags you in and under, into a world that seems absolutely alien to middle-class Whites like myself. It lets you peek over the shoulder and into the mindset of Rudy, a middle-aged tribal cop on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Unfortunately, it does so in a language whose pubertal vulgarity doesn't quite fit a man in his 40s.

While the book has passages that I find hauntingly beautiful (the Deer People, to name just one), it also has a fair share of redundancies, suffers from an overuse of adjectives and - most of all - from a point-of-view that oscillates wildly between third person limited and third person omniscient. I often found myself wondering whose eyes I was looking through, so to speak: Rudy's as an adult? Rudy's as a teenager? Somebody else's? Whose?

Inspite of its shortcomings, I very much enjoyed "Skins". Louis is a talented storyteller. He deserves - needs - a better editor, though!
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