Literary Disco On Coyote and the Shadow People
Julia, Rider, and Tod Discuss a Classic of Native American Storytelling
On today’s episode, Julia, Rider, and Tod discuss a classic of Native American storytelling, a story told by generations of the Nez Perce tribe entitled “Coyote and the Shadow People.”
From the episode:
Julia Pistell: I’m so curious about and moved by this common thread that I’m sure in a million cultures, which is you could almost have what you wanted as long as you don’t ask for too much by looking back or reaching out. What does that mean? I don’t know. I feel like I have not personally experienced the longing for that person to be back is so much that you can’t resist. I’m trying to put this myth into something that’s in my lived experience, and I don’t know. It’s hard to do that.
Tod Goldberg: It’s the reckoning with heartbreak. You can’t engage in magical thinking. You have to actually accept the trauma and the heartbreak of your life. In truth, of course, I do find that story to be a good sort of lesson you could teach a young child or something. Of course, it’s salient for all of us. We’re all going to lose someone and wish that we could get them back. And it’s basically Pet Cemetery. You know? It’s the same story. So we should just read Pet Cemetery.
Julia Pistell: But it’s not Pet Cemetery because it’s not literal.
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