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Fiction. Native American Studies. Jackalope in Denise Low’s trickster stories is a 21st century figure as real as Bigfoot. Part antelope and part rabbit, this denizen of the grasslands has a Twitter account and a trusty road car. He loves Native American tales as well as Old West adventures. Jack’s social life includes encounters with Roswell aliens, Jayhawks, and Chupacabra (Goat Sucker). Bawdy humor is Jackalope’s lifeblood, so join Jack as he (or sometimes she) savors urban legends and juniper-based martinis.
Here is one Jackalope story, about Jack’s trip through the High Plains and his stop at a gas station.
“Jackalope is a text that will teach general readers a great deal about contemporary Native America without seeming the least bit didactic. It is also a book that indigenous audiences and other literary insiders will find divertingly full of what critic Kenneth Lincoln calls ‘Indi’n Humor.’” David Carlson, American Book Review
“I haven’t had such continuous pleasure in a book for a while. In Jackalope, archetypes collide with post-modern chaos theory, folkore is fused with true sophistication, all delivered with panache, clever and even sly. It’s a roadtrip through the American west: enjoy the ride.” Fred Whitehead, Penniless Press, U.K.
“Trickster takes center stage in Denise Low’s JACKALOPE, a collection of prose and poetry recounting the adventures of its title character, Jackalope Kelley. This anthropomorphic animal is the cryptid on postcards you see at gas stations across the American Midwest—a rabbit with two iconic pronghorn antlers. Jackalope Kelley shifts between male and female identities: Jack when he’s a man, Jaq when she’s a woman. He drinks a gin and tonic in a Twitter bar. She passes through Seattle, Santa Fe, Minneapolis, Colorado, and Roswell, among other places. He vomits when he sees the head of one of his ancestors mounted above the door in a Wyoming bar. And she searches for a gynecologist—or does he need a urologist? All of these scenes give the book a playful feel, but there’s also plenty of time for reflection. In quieter moments, Jackalope tries to explain his complicated heritage to others. … This merging of shape-shifting identities with shape-shifting trickster narratives is no accident. The language of the book is steeped in the Native American mythologies and vocabularies that Low understands so well.”—see more: KCUR link Ben Pfeiffer, Interviews Editor, The Rumpus
7 books by noteworthy Kansas authors to read this fall and winter: “If you are interested in a modern spin on old folk tales with trickster leads, Jackalope is the book for you. Join Jack/Jaq, a gender-bending part-antelope, part-rabbit, as s/he travels through the grasslands encountering various mythic creatures like Bigfoot and Jayhawks. Lawrence author Denise Low’s “Jackalope” is a collection of short stories that draw from Native American trickster stories and puts them in a 21st century context. For anyone looking for a bit of bawdy humor and magic, be sure to pick this book up.” Mysha Phelps, University Daily Kansan
“…The jackalope of Denise Low’s creation is a friendly, gender-changing, juniper-juice-drinking storyteller but also a bit of a trickster – as rabbits tend to be in Native American lore – whose worldview is tinged with both humor and the occasional world-weariness. Through this collection of poems and short, vignette-type stories, Low plays with the idea of a myth in the modern day: Jackalope (‘Jack’ or ‘Jaq,’ depending on gender) has distinctly 21st-century experiences, usually beginning by “walking into” a place. In the stories, Jackalope ‘walks into’ meetings, lectures, galleries, a wide variety of bars, even a Sherman Alexie narrative.” Lisa McLendon, Wichita Eagle
“In JACKALOPE, the mythic gender-bending figure, Jaq/Jack, takes us along on a magical mystery tour where s/he meets up with other trickster-cryptids. Jaq/Jack leaps out of the two-dimensional entrapment of postcards to claim his/her own spaces between worlds. One wonders why Jackalope has had to wait so long to have a say.”—Jeanetta Calhoun Mish, Director of The Red Earth MFA
“JACKALOPE recounts the seriocomic encounters of a Native American trickster who travels through a world that’s ‘part factual and part mythological, just like everything else.’ In the ‘intergender’ Jackalope/Jaqalope Kelley’s picaresque sojourns in bars (mostly), truck stops, and galleries, history meets tall tale, dream and vision worry the mundane, and humor functions as a salve for wounds of the long-oppressed. Here is a multi-faceted and incisive look at America from the viewpoint of its indigenous people and spirits.”—William Trowbridge, Missouri Poet Laureate
“JACKALOPE is a perfect blend of stories, poetry, and strangeness. Denise Low has created a collection that is simultaneously myth and not-myth, a shining delight.”—Kij Johnson, Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards winner
VIDEO RECORDING of readings from Jackalope, March 2016, Kansas City’s The Writers Place
Denise Low, Ks. Poet Laureate 2007-09, is award-winning author of 25 books, including Melange Block (poems, Red Mountain Press), and Kansas Poems of William Stafford (essays and anthology). Her memoir The Turtle’s Beating Heart is forthcoming . Her fiction has earned two Pushcart Prize nominations. Low is past board president of Associated Writers and Writing Programs. She blogs, reviews, and co-publishes Mammoth Publications. Her professional workshops have national reach, and she teaches at Baker University. She has British Isles, German, Delaware, and Cherokee heritage. She has an MFA and PhD.