Kent Nerburn’s acclaimed trilogy, which begins with Neither Wolf nor Dog, is a compilation of his accounts with Dan, an elder Indian he met in the 1990s after receiving a call from Dan’s adult granddaughter. Nerburn, renown writer of Native American studies, is asked to visit Dan, who lives on a Dakota Indian reservation. Intrigued, the Minnesota writer takes a road trip to the reservation, where he will meet with the tribal elder. Nerburn’s awareness of the abuse and mistreatment of Native Americans is enriched with stories shared by Dan, who wishes the author to publish them. This results in a close yet unusual friendship, which continues to develop throughout the three books.
In The Wolf at Twilight, fifteen years have passed before Nerburn is again contacted by Dan, who is almost ninety years old. Dan insists that the writer come help him bury his beloved dog Fatback. Once again, Nerburn takes on more than he bargained for when he visits his friend who is struggling with decades of memories of his long-lost sister Yellowbird, who was removed from the family home and taken to a reservation boarding school at a young age. Nerburn is determined to find out what happened to Dan’s little sister, despite the fact that it was eighty years ago.
In the final book, The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo, Nerburn is haunted by dreams of Yellowbird and Mary, an elderly woman who enlightened him in his search in the previous book. The author decides to visit Mary, and finds out more critical information about Yellowbird. He knows he must share what he has learned with Dan, if the man is still living, as several years have passed since their last conversation.
The accounts in this trilogy of books read like novels. On his road trips and adventures on the reservation, Nerburn becomes acquainted with the community of Dan’s friends and family members whom the reader will get to know and love while reading the series. Nerburn’s fascinating and often humorous journeys with a cast of colorful characters result in miraculous conclusions as he tries to find answers to give his friend Dan peace in his final days.
Join Kent Nerburn, along with authors Meg Waite Clayton and Jenn McKinlay, at this year’s Books in Bloom on Saturday, April 29th.
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