The Short Stories of John Joseph Mathews, an Osage Writer


The Short Stories of John Joseph Mathews, an Osage Writer

John Joseph Mathews
Edited and with an introduction by Susan Kalter

314 pages


June 2022


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June 2022


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eBook (PDF)

June 2022


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eBook (EPUB)

June 2022


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About the Book

Susan Kalter presents seventeen previously unpublished short stories by John Joseph Mathews and skillfully intertwines literary analysis, author biography, and archival research with his journals and personal correspondence. Mathews is considered one of the founders and shapers of the twentieth-century Native American novel, yet literary history has largely ignored his work.

An Osage writer from Oklahoma, Mathews also spent time in Los Angeles and Europe. The stories in this volume were written at the dawn of the nuclear age by an author who exposed the social dynamics of an emerging world order, an author who had also published explicitly about the ways he observed the East Coast establishment suppressing southwestern writers. This work shows us the aesthetics we missed out on as a result. Topics range from adulterous murder to Cherokee removal, from the thrill of the hunt to the cultural impasses between U.S. citizens in Mexico and their hosts, from the modern Middle East to the fantastical future. The stories bear the consciousness of a postwar world—its confusions and regrets, its orthodoxies and hypocrisies—as well as the mark of a practiced and prolific writer. The Short Stories of John Joseph Mathews, an Osage Writer sheds light on the complexity of Native American experiences of the last century and the ripple of these stories today.


Author Bio

John Joseph Mathews (1895–1979) is the author of Wah’Kon-tah: The Osage and the White Man’s Road; Sundown; Talking to the Moon; Life and Death of an Oilman: The Career of E. W. Marland; The Osages: Children of the Middle WatersTwenty Thousand Mornings: An Autobiography; and a children’s book, Old Three Toes and Other Tales of Survival and Extinction. Susan Kalter is a professor of American literature and Native American studies at Illinois State University. She is the editor of Twenty Thousand Mornings: An Autobiography and Old Three Toes and Other Tales of Survival and Extinction.


"Composed of seventeen unpublished short stories written mostly between 1945 and 1951, this remarkable collection that Susan Kalter has brought together reveals a fascinating and unexpected side of John Joseph Mathews."—Alexander Steele, Western American Literature

“Susan Kalter’s work brings to life the wider world of Mathews beyond his well-known Osage works. . . . Mathews remains a towering figure, and the short stories will only add to his reputation.”—Blue Clark, professor of law at Oklahoma City University and author of Indian Tribes of Oklahoma: A Guide

“This book deftly weaves literary analysis, author biography, archival work, and historical context into literary recovery. . . . It is thoroughly researched and communicates that research in clear and accessible prose.”—Alyssa Hunziker, assistant professor of English at Oklahoma State University

Table of Contents


The Thinkin’ Man
Too Small for a Horse
Old Bob (Unpublished and unedited version)
Old Bob (Manuscript antecedent to the published version)

Travel Stories
Lady of the Inn
Allah’s Guest
Yellow Hair
Only a Blonde

Stories from Indian Country
The Apache Woman
The Talk of the Face
The Flower on Cadron Creek
Moccasin Prints
Bad Medicine

Stories of World War II and the Cold War
No Time
The Liberal View
What Thing Is Fairest
Natural Science
The Meek Shall Inherit?

Source Acknowledgments
Selected Bibliography

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