Renegade Sioux attack wagons bound for Yanube city
One family escapes, two others massacred, including children
The above could be a headline from a Dakota Territory newspaper drawn from an incident portrayed in Mark Wildyr’s novel, Cut Hand, which released yesterday. The headline is accurate in the facts it cites, but as is often the case, does not tell the entire story. By way of introduction to Cut Hand, let me cite the blurb from the book:
Far from the world he knows, he’ll find a home.
Among strangers, he’ll find acceptance.
And in the arms of an unexpected man, he’ll find love.
Young Billy Strobaw comes West to escape the stigma of his Tory family. In the Dakota Territories, he encounters the Yanube warrior Cut Hand. Billy’s attraction to the other man is as surprising as the Yanube perspective on same-sex love. Unlike Europeans, the Siouan tribe celebrates such unions. Billy and Cut Hand can live as partners and build a life together, which Billy agrees to do.
As Billy struggles to acclimate to a very different culture, quickly discovering the Yanube have as much to teach him as he has to impart to them, a larger struggle is brewing. The white man is barreling through the Great Plains, trampling underfoot anyone who stands in his way. As a leader of his people, Cut Hand must decide whether it will be peace or war.
In a historical romance taking place against the epic backdrop of the early American West, where a single spark can ignite a powder keg of greed, lust for power, and misunderstanding, one man must find his place in history and his role in the preservation of all he has come to value.
This pretty well captures the essence of the novel. My entire purpose in writing this and succeeding books in the series is to show how homosexuality was viewed by some Native American cultures as contrasted to the prejudices of the European Americans, and then to show how the invaders’ views slowly came to prevail. I do this through a love story in its purest form. A love story between two men: William Joseph Strobaw and Cut Hand.
Rather than give you excerpts from the book, I’d like to address a question that was raised to me recently. Shouldn’t this book have been written by a Native American? Well, to trivialize the question, I am a native American… although of the Caucasian persuasion. I was born in Oklahoma and raised in the United States. But I understand the seriousness of the question. So setting aside jocularity, the answer is “No.”
The novel is the story of two men, Billy Strobaw, a young European American, and Cut Hand, the scion of a fictional band called the Yanube, a Siouan offshoot. While most of the book takes place with Billy living among his adopted people, the book is told from his viewpoint. Further, it is Billy who elects to live among a culture totally foreign to him, and it is Billy who must completely change his lifestyle to fit in with his new environment. And he does this willingly in order to live openly with the man he loves. Something he could not do among his own people.
We view the sweep of history during some sixty-odd years of the 19th century through Billy’s eyes. We watch him struggle to balance his relationship with individuals with different customs and mores at the same time he abandons his own kind. We watch him fight to reestablish contact with other whites in the closest town. In short, he learns to balance his life between two conflicting cultures.
As an intelligent, educated man, Billy can see the injustices done to his adopted people, and he uses his knowledge of the outside world in an attempt to help them survive. This is not treason to his own, but rather a vain effort to reduce the conflict between the two cultures.
Even so, this is no less the telling of Cut Hand’s story, and I have labored to show his culture and his viewpoint as honestly as possible. These were honorable people who lived healthy and spiritual lives until they were uprooted by strangers demanding their land and killing off the staple of their existence… Tatanka, the buffalo.
Now I’m told I must tell you something about me. So here goes—in the third person, yet:
A widower, Mark Wildyr brings along his Oklahoma roots wherever he goes. Tubercular as a child, he turned to the library instead of the ball field. After taking a Government/History double major in college, he can’t to this day explain the government part. Mark presently lives in New Mexico and loves it. He’s fascinated by different cultures, especially Native American, and likes to explore how different peoples influence one another. Imagining how they will react intermingling with one another as they mature and figure out their sexuality is a theme in every one of his books.
He’s consumed by writing and indulges his passion with novels, both contemporary and historical. Although longer works of fiction are his preference, he’s sold around sixty short stories. He understands his writing isn’t perfect and can live with that fact, so he is proud of his seven published novels. Mark teaches a free writing class every Monday afternoon at the North Domingo Baca Multigenerational Center in Albuquerque and is intrigued by his students’ approach to life and writing. He verges on being a nerd and is okay with that.
Many thanks to Hayley and DSPP for the opportunity to host this blog. Before I go, let me provide my contact information.
Website and blog: markwildyr.com
And here are some buy links to the book: