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In 1900 the West was still wild. Anglo-Americans were tearing up the countryside in the name of progress, and pity the Indians who stood in the way. To this canvas Leslie Marmon Silko, author of such well-received novels as Almanac of the Dead and Ceremony, brings her brush. Gardens in the Dunes begins and ends at a hidden garden near the Colorado River on the California-Arizona border. But Silko covers ground that includes the early stages of women's rights, emerging female sexuality, the rape of the Amazon, early quack medicine, Gnostic mysteries, Celtic magic, and flower husbandry. Her palette has many colors, but everywhere the garden is a central theme.
Grandmother Fleet, one of the few remaining Sand Lizard Indians, tends a traditional desert garden while teaching the old ways to her granddaughters Sister Salt and Indigo. At a time of crushing hopelessness, Wovoka's Ghost Dance messianic movement appears, drawing in the girls and Grandmother Fleet:
While the others danced with eyes focussed on the fire, Indigo watched the weird shadows play on the hillsides, so she was one of the first to see the Messiah and his family as they stepped out of darkness into the glow of swirling snowflakes. How their white robes shined!Indigo is also one of the first to sense the approach of soldiers and Indian police bent on breaking up the gathering. The action then moves her from the secret garden and small family to an Indian school in Riverside. She eventually flees the school and ends up traveling through Europe with an aristocratic Victorian family, as companion to an unmarried woman. Despite her many adventures and her exposure to a life of privilege and luxury, Indigo never loses her affinity for the traditions of her own people. Silko uses this novel to explore contrasts between Native American and European customs and morals--with white culture often coming up short. On occasion this ambitious novel strays into the political proper, but there's no denying the sheer force of Silko's prose and the sweep of her story. Gardens in the Dunes offers both a vivid portrait of 19th-century Native American life and a provocative exploration of disparate cultures' relationships to the world around them --Schuyler Ingle --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Silko (Almanac of the Dead, etc.) is widely considered a master of Native American literature, but in this third novel, as always, the poet, short-story writer and essayist soars beyond the simpler categorizations that might circumscribe her virtuosic and visionary work. Indigo is one of the last Sand Lizard people, who for centuries have cultivated the desert dunes beyond the river. Young Indigo's story opens like a folk tale, outside place and time, but gradually circumstances become plain. It's the turn of the century, Arizona is on the verge of statehood and an aqueduct is being constructed to feed water from the Colorado River to Los Angeles. Displaced peoples strip the desert gardens, and Grandma Fleet takes Indigo and Sister Salt to Needles. There the girls' mother has joined the encampment of women dancing to summon the Messiah, who, to Indigo's wonderment, appears with his Holy Mother and his 11 children. Soldiers raid the celebration; soon Indigo and Sister Salt are captured and separated, and Indigo is sent to school in Riverside. She escapes and is found hiding in a garden by intellectual iconoclast Hattie, who adopts the child and takes her first to New York, then to Europe. The novel, expanding far beyond its initial setting and historical themes, is structured around intricate patterns of color and styles of gardening: the desert dunes are pale yellow and orange; in Italy, a black garden is formed from thousands of hybrid black gladioli. Significantly, there's also a parrot named RainbowAalong with a monkey named Linnaeus and a dog circus. Silko's integration of glorious details into her many vivid settings and intense characters is a triumph of the storyteller's art, which this gifted and magical novelist has never demonstrated more satisfyingly than she does here.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Interesting, informative & simply beautiful! Perfect if you have an interest in Native American culture or the SW.Published 11 months ago by Carol A. Orme
This novel follows the lives of two, Native American sisters after they are separated. The novel follows the traditional “Victorian” form. Read morePublished 16 months ago by CRW
I received it on time and it is in proper condition, except i was sent a paperback instead of a hardcover. I;m not complaining, however. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Liz
A wonderful read. Thoroughly enjoyable and will recommend to family, friends and clients. Any chance author will be coming to St. Louis, MO?Published 19 months ago by Craig Kessler
I enjoyed this book a lot. It makes a lot of references to gardens, plants, and crops. You'd go dizzy trying to find all of the references to those. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Jenna
A good story, with interesting characters. It contains lots of information about the role of women at the turn of the century, about Native American customs, and more than the... Read morePublished on May 26, 2013 by Shirley H. Erickson
It just wasn't my type of book - I ordered it because one of my grandsons recommended it. He is in to organic gardening and natural farming, and I was curious to see what he liked... Read morePublished on January 6, 2013 by happy buyer 84
I'm a lover of Barbara Kingsolver and Roy's God of Small Things, and this book was a delight. It is beautiful, slow to unfurl, and riveting. A must read.Published on July 5, 2010 by Anna