|This collection of hard-edged prose poems takes no prisoners. Louis walks the tightrope between the sacred and the profane with humor, anger, and compassion, all dispensed with a startling clarity of vision. These poems, written from 1999 to 2004, derive from Louis’s self-imposed exile in the rural deadlands of southwestern Minnesota.
“Like fresh voices of any era, Adrian C. Louis’s work requires a second look; the poems are often outside the comfort zone of what is currently stylish or ‘in.’ He is daring, but I don’t really think he is reckless. He has created a persona, a speaker who looks squarely at the world and who processes what he sees through a sensibility that can be gently comic, severely satirical, outrageously iconoclastic, and sometimes disarmingly self-revealing. The voice, which sounds so nonchalant and casual at times, always manages a musical intensity. The way Whitman’s voice did. Or Allen Ginsberg’s at his best. There is consistently a wry and forgiving smile curling through even his most cantankerous poems. Adrian C. Louis is an original and untamable genius.” — Jim Heynen
“Adrian C. Louis is a one-man wrecking crew who will change the face of poetry until we all wake up and honor him. No poet does what he does. No poet attempts what he attempts. His poetry is everything we were educated to turn our backs on because of the fear of facing American truths. His visions and choice of words are rhythmic, defiant, and timeless.” — Ray Gonzalez
|Skins caused considerable debate when first released by Crown Publishers in 1995. This explosive tale of two brothers—one an alcoholic and the other a rez cop—is set in the poorest county in America, the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. The noted American Indian writer Sherman Alexie has this to say about the book: “Adrian C. Louis has written a violent and dangerous book about twentieth-century Sioux Indians. This novel is a complex portrait of racism and brotherhood, sexism and affection, murder and redemption, alcoholism and laughter. These are not the simple Sioux of Dances with Wolves. These are not ‘Native’ Americans. These are Indians (yes, Indians) living, dying, and loving on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Skins is about the love between brothers, men and women, parents and children. Believe me, despite all the pain and because of the pain, this is a love story.”
As Nelson Algren once remarked, you have to love a place a little before you’ve earned the right to knock it. Louis’s affection for his America Indian people is obvious throughout the novel, which is in one sense a ritual purgation—on many levels—of a legacy attributed to white colonialism, Indian complicity, Iktomi, and the reptilian side of the human brain. This is a novel, as James Welch observed, full of “great characters, savvy humor, and true compassion.”
Adrian C. Louis was born and raised in Nevada and is an enrolled member of the Lovelock Paiute tribe. He is a graduate of Brown University, where he also received an MA in Creative Writing. From 1984 to 1998 he taught at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Louis has worked for and edited various Indian newspapers including the Lakota Times and Indian Country Today. He presently teaches at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota, where he directs the creative writing program.
Republication of this novel coincides with the August 2002 release of the film Skins, based on Louis’s novel, starring Graham Greene, directed by Chris Eyre, and distributed by Firstlook Pictures.