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Almanac of the Dead Paperback – 1992


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Product details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Notations, Pages Bent edition (1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140173196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140173192
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 3.5 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 244,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 9 July 1997
Format: Paperback
Silko has written the most disturbing work of fiction I have ever read -- brutal, violent, vulgar, obscene, horrific, ugly, terrifying.....and unfortunately true. With a cast of characters as degenerate as they come, Silko strips away the facade of "manners" and "civilization" to expose the ugliest of the ugly in man, an ugly too near the surface of many people. Blinded by their own self-centeredness, each character stumbles toward personal armageddon from which there is no escape. The novel presents none of the hopeful aspects which are generally associated with contemporary Native American literature (but one, Sterling's return to Laguna) -- there are no living children to continue the family and no characters in relationships that offer this hope, no communities with strong emotional ties, no returns (except for Sterling's), and no healing. Morally and emotionally scarred, the characters move through the novels like the decaying creatures in a horror movie. No book has ever made me physically ill until this one -- headaches, nausea, nightmares, general disgust. If you have a weak constitution, skip this one. Also, watch out for extreme prejudice -- are Europeans the only ones not allowed to live on in the promised land? Are Europeans the only group that is not tribal, and therefore not deserving of a place in the Americas (a trick question, for if you believe in evolution, all groups were tribal at one point or another)?
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By A Customer on 7 Feb 1997
Format: Paperback
In a stunning subversion of the concept of "americaness", Leslie Marmon Silko has drawn together the disparate histories of a world that streches for the end of Argentina to the tip of Alaska and created a new mythology of the Americas. Epic in scope, poetic in meaning, this novel graphically exposes the infected soul of a stolen continent. The language is unflinching as the story, each character crucified to their past as they move toward Silko's impending apocalypse. Not mearly the story of the evil oppression of a helpless people, this book explore the nature of domination and how it corrups and breaks both those who are dominated, and those who dominate. Almanac of the Dead is a history and a proficy. Undoubtedly the most important work or true American ficition.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Aug 1997
Format: Paperback
Silko lost control of this one. What she originally intended to be an action thriller about the Tucson-area drug trade exploded into a nearly incoherent assemblage of unresolved and mostly unconnected plots and subplots. Conspiracy theorists will love Almanac, but fans of Silko's first novel, Ceremony, will be disappointed.

Certainly worth reading, Almanac of the Dead is at its best comic and entertaining, with some well-developed and unique characters. The best are Roy Rambo, the chief of the Army of the Homeless in Tucson, whose identifying mark is his crisp, dry-cleaned green beret; La Escapia and the Police Chief in Mexico are also powerfully developed and involved in some of the more interesting scenes in the novel.

Others are disappointing: Beaufrey and Serlo, for example, both misogynist dealers in pornography, snuff films, and white supremacy, are developed into the ground. Silko repeatedly tells us what we can figure out on our own: Beaufrey and Serlo hate women, and they are racists. This tendency to tell rather than show happens repeatedly in the novel and causes it to sag.

Many readers will find the violence and sex in the novel not just gratuitous, but downright sickening. Infanticide, bestiality, torture, cannibalism, autopsies, illegal organ harvesting--it's all here, often described in minute, clinical detail. Although one could argue that Silko is making a critique of the cultures that produce these deviants, clearly her representations of perversions and death are excessive.

Readers looking for insights into problems plaguing contemporary Native Americans found in Ceremony will not like Almanac at all. It goes on and on and on, ending with the reader wondering what it all means.
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By A Customer on 22 Dec 1996
Format: Paperback
Almanac of the Dead is a slouching beast of a book. Not so much a 'best novel of the last n years' as simply an essential and irreplaceable addition to American fiction. It's noisy, vulgar, horrifying; reading it is like surviving a train wreck: You're better for the experience. And of course, it's not as dangerous....
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Format: Paperback
By any standard of measurement, Leslie Marmon Silko is a great American writer, and her novels, beginning with "Ceremony", are notable additions to American literature. "Almanac of the Dead" may be her literary masterpiece, a magnificent "stream-of-consciousness" novel that looks back on more than five hundred years of sordid history between Western European invaders (and their descendants) and the original Native American inhabitants of the Americas. Silko draws upon Native American mythology from both continents in creating a narrative that switches back and forth between the present and the past, with much of it set in present-day Tucson, Arizona. Hers is an imperfect work of fiction, and yet, it is one that deserves favorable comparison with the likes of Herman Melville's "Moby Dick", especially as a most beguiling mixture of fact and fiction, legend and history, or any of the great novels by Thomas Pynchon ("V", "Gravity's Rainbow", "Vineland"). Like Melville or Pynchon's great work, "Almanac of the Dead" is a novel that deserves to be read by as wide a readership as possible; a great work of literary art which remains most relevant now.
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