In There There, Orange writes of an Indigenous band, "the problem with Indigenous art in general is that it’s stuck in the past. The catch, or the double bind, about the whole thing is this: If it isn’t pulling from tradition, how is it Indigenous? And if it is stuck in tradition, in the past, how can it be relevant to other Indigenous people living now, how can it be modern? So to get close to but keep enough distance from tradition, in order to be recognizably Native and modern-sounding, is a small kind of miracle..." and the same could be said for this novel.
Orange writes a panoply of characters. And actually, if I had one critique it would be that you need to read the book, without interruption from other books, or a couple of the young boys and their relationships get a little muddy. It could be that I had to return the book because of the hold list and check it out again. Regardless, the majority of the characterizations are strong, making nearly every voice unique.
The story centers around an upcoming pow wow to be held at the Oakland Coliseum. And thus the name. I didn't know before reading this that Gertrude Stein was from Oakland and her famous quote that "there is no there there" was about returning to Oakland as an adult. I'm finding it difficult to write this review because it's the type of thing I want to quote big chunks of. The writing is insightful and while it is about the Native community, it is a novel that many will relate to: the ways we respond to trauma, the feeling of disconnect, and a story that culminates in the great fear of the modern age.