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Almanac of the Dead Paperback – 1 Jan 1992

4.3 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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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 x 4.1 x 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 296,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Leslie Marmon Silko was born in 1948 to a family whose ancestry includes Mexican, Laguna Indian, and European forebears. She has said that her writing has at its core the attempt to identify what it is to be a half-breed or mixed-blood person. As she grew up on the Laguna Pueblo Reservation, she learned the stories and culture of the Laguna people from her great-grandmother and other female relatives. After receiving her B. A. in English at the University of New Mexico, she enrolled in the University of New Mexico law school but completed only three semesters before deciding that writing and storytelling, not law, were the means by which she could best promote justice. She married John Silko in 1970. Prior to the writing of "Ceremony," she published a series of short stories, including The Man to Send Rain Clouds. She also authored a volume of poetry, "Laguna Woman: Poems," for which she received the Pushcart Prize for Poetry.

In 1973, Silko moved to Ketchikan, Alaska, where she wrote "Ceremony." Initially conceived as a comic story abut a mother s attempts to keep her son, a war veteran, away from alcohol, "Ceremony" gradually transformed into an intricate meditation on mental disturbance, despair, and the power of stories and traditional culture as the keys to self-awareness and, eventually, emotional healing. Having battled depression herself while composing her novel, Silko was later to call her book a ceremony for staying sane. Silko has followed the critical success of "Ceremony" with a series of other novels, including "Storyteller, Almanac for the Dead," and "Gardens in the Dunes." Nevertheless, it was the singular achievement of "Ceremony" that first secured her a place among the first rank of Native American novelists. Leslie Marmon Silko now lives on a ranch near Tucson, Arizona.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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What can I say but I loved this book. Got it because a friend mentioned it and he was not wrong. It is a deep book and one has to concentrate a bit in order to follow all the stories that ultimately weave into one larger story. I found it mesmerising. It made me think on the reality of western culture - civilization, at this juncture in time. Though it is a 'story' it also reflects vividly the western reality. All I have to say to L.M.Silko is Bravo...well said!!!
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Anybody who thinks this is merely fiction is mistaken. This is reality, and it is happening as I type. Once the perceptive reader finishes this book (s)he will look around, and see that Almanac of the Dead is a completely accurate portrayal of the Western Hemisphere at the end of the 20th Century. Certainly the book may be too "strange" or "bizaare" for some readers. Those who think that reality is television, shopping malls, and suburbia may find the insights into how the rest of humanity lives to be disturbing. But the society set up by Europeans in North and South America is a hollow one, and the cracks are already showing. Almanac of the Dead is the blue print of the coming changes. We have been warned.
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