- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (October 7, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 067002211X
- ISBN-13: 978-0670022113
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 31 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #721,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Turquoise Ledge: A Memoir Hardcover – October 7, 2010
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*Starred Review* The turquoise stones Silko finds in the Tucson Mountains near her home embody the story of the land and her own complex heritage. A MacArthur fellow, Silko drew on her Laguna Pueblo, Cherokee, Mexican, and European ancestry in her previous books, including her seminal novels Ceremony (1978) and Gardens in the Dunes (1999). She digs even deeper in this richly veined, dramatic, and mysterious self-portrait, telling gripping stories of suffering and wisdom from each branch of her complex family tree that reveal the consequences of racism, the war against Native Americans, and the abuse of nature, including shocking glimpses into the Indian slave trade and the dire effects of the atomic bomb tests and uranium mining. Vivid portraits of her grandmothers and mother are matched by amazing tales of the animal members of Silko’s extended family, from horses and dogs to macaws and rattlesnakes. Mesmerizing descriptions of desert and drought, musings over the significance of turquoise, concern over environmental destruction, harrowing personal struggles, and haunting revelations of spiritual forces converge in a provocative and numinous memoir that backs Silko’s resounding perception that “in the Americas, the sacred surrounds us, no matter how damaged or changed a place may appear to be.” --Donna Seaman
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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The prose is beautiful. I can picture the trees and cactus, I can feel this life lived with the animals, reptiles, birds and insects. There is no gossip, no reality shows, no newspapers although here is a woman obviously paying attention to modern society, politics and their impact on the natural world she inhabits.
I open the book over and over to listen to this woman share her life with me. She doesn't care if I like her, she is simply speaking the truth of her life, one day at a time. She is intense, focused on her surroundings. She lives as an artist integrated into her environment. She doesn't consider herself as a human being to be the center of the universe. I am married into a Native American family and Silko reminds me of many of my women in-laws. Her voice rings true. She does not have a European American sensibility.
"As I walked I looked at the dark basalt hills, and at the cactus and shrubs and trees; all of them were in harmony with one another, and I felt within that beauty. In an instant I saw that even man-made things--the roll of old fence wire, the old rail ties withered by sixty years of the heat and the sun--were in the light of that beauty. In that beauty we all will sink slowly back into the lap of the Earth."
Left me homesick for Tucson, although I have only visited there. Highly recommend! I look forward to reading Leslie Silko's novels next...