Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ghost Dances: Proving Up On The Great Plains

"Ghost Dances: Proving Up On The Great Plains" by Josh Garrett-Davis
Ghost DancesA Review
A Reasonable Book, Personable Author
By Dakota Wind
GREAT PLAINS, N.D. & S.D. - Garrett-Davis took this reviewer on a journey of self-examination and reflection of his life as it is now and what it was for him as he grew up on the Great Plains of South Dakota. A memoir unlike any that you may pick up or read again, it is a blend of history of the late nineteenth century interlaced with pre-internet life, of a young boy’s discovery of counter-culture heavy rock music in the days when MTV actually played music videos.

Garrett-Davis wistfully recalls the angst of young boyhood when his parents divorced after unsuccessfully trying to maintain a record store stocked with music they believed represented the rage of a generation against the machine of state and federal policy, even as Garrett-Davis’ book details his own rage against the machinations of a lesbian mother and a distant workaholic father.

Ghost Dances captures the longing of many Great Plains youth to leave the wind, the plains, and the open skies behind for a cultured and contemporary life in any city. Garrett-Davis’ visits to his grandmother in Minnesota are as much a relief from the stresses of a broken home as from the constant winds, the sweeping grasses and the endless sky.

The history of the state, the Great Plains, the settlers and the native peoples which Garrett-Davis peppers Ghost Dances throughout seem an attempt to make the hardships of all, his own, while the author captures perfectly the dreams to escape, he fails to capture the feelings of those who choose to stay. Garrett-Davis includes stats in Ghost Dances about out-migration, even as he acknowledges moving out of state himself.

In the end, the book is about confirming the character of himself as well as the people who grow up on the plains. It is the wind, the grass, and the sky, the very openness which (at least compared to people not from the plains) imbibes wholesomeness, openness, and perhaps honesty (even a steady wariness of small town politics) in the people who dream of leaving.

Beware reader. This isn’t for everyone and it shouldn’t be. It’s about life on the plains after Little House On The Prairie…with MTV, broken family ties, massacre, He-Man escapism, return of the bison, idealized politics heaped unto a young mind, and love of late 80s and early 90s hard rock here, there, then and now.

Gratify yourself, reader, with a copy of Ghost Dances today. Visit Josh Garrett-Davis’ website at

No comments:

Post a Comment