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Almanac of the Dead [Paperback]

Leslie Marmon Silko
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 29 1992
In its extraordinary range of character and culture, Almanac of the Dead is fiction on the grand scale. The acclaimed author of Ceremony has undertaken a weaving of ideas and lives, fate and history, passion and conquest in an attempt to re-create the moral history of the Americas, told from the point of view of the conquered, not the conquerors. Author readings.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Silko's ambitious but meandering novel untertakes an epic narrative, heavy with intrigue and carnage, about an apocalyptic Native American insurrection. Author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

When the ex-mistress of a sinister cocaine wholesaler takes a job as secretary to a Native American clairvoyant who works the TV talk show circuit, she begins transcribing an ancient manuscript that foretells the second coming of Quetzalcoatl and the violent end of white rule in the Americas. Witches and shamans across the country are working to fulfill this prophecy, but the capitalist elite is mounting a dirty war of its own, with weapons such as heroin and cocaine. This novel belongs on the same shelf with Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo ( LJ 10/1/72) and Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975). Occult conspiracies multiply at a dizzying pace, and eco-radicals actually do blow up the Glen Canyon Dam. Silko succeeds more as a storyteller than a novelist: the book is full of memorable vignettes, but the frame story of apocalyptic racial warfare is clumsy comic book fare. Recommended for collections of magic realism and Native American fiction.
- Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch . Lib., Los Angeles
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
By John Kwok TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Revelation April 16 2004
By A Customer
Leslie Marmon Silko has created an intensely profound window into the deep undercurrents of American civilization. Her complex characters and revealing looks into their lives opens a porthole into the human condition that is intersting and intense all at once. The reader becomes an intregal part of the lives of the characters that she has created. The shortcomings of the characters are buried beneath reality and Silko is able to make a connection that is intriguing. Aside from the all consuming length of the book Silko manages to stay the course and complete a novel that is worthy of the time investment. I read this book as part of an essential study on modern American novels and I agree that this book has characteriscs that make it worthy of its lofty modern day status.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Native Reality Check Oct. 7 2002
By A Customer
I am a Native American woman, and I found this book empowering, depressing and very raw. I can see people that I know in the characters in the book as well as having had some of the same experiences. The book gives a realistic glimpse of a small population of Native American experiences. It shows how hard our world really is, and how Natives struggle through their lives knowing that there is no alternative. This book shows the other, real side to the "noble savage" myth.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother with it Oct. 22 2000
By A Customer
Despite what some people claim, this book is horrible. No, it's not the issues addressed, it's the racism and hatred of white people, it's the the whole book. There is no real plot or central theme. If you meet a character, no matter how minor, you will find out about their sex life and sex constitutes probably two-thirds of the novel. Almanac of the Dead is basically several short stories (that might have been interesting on their own) intertwined to create this disaster of a "novel". Nothing really fits together and at the end you will wonder what the point of all the exposition is when it just suddenly ends and rather cheesily ends. Run far away and forget you ever considered this book. Live and happy and full life and avoid the headaches, boredom. Enjoy the time you could spend reading it doing something else like playing with your kids, doing volunteer work, or reading something enjoyable like Something Wicked This Way Comes or Sense and Sensibility or Harry Potter. Call the friend you haven't seen in 5 years, but don't waste your time on Almanac of the Dead.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book... Oct. 4 2000
By Zentao
Wow, what a concept...we finally have a Native American stream-of-consciousness novel! Enough of these white-man's dreams like The Tunnel or Gravity's Rainbow, we finally are letting some other voices tell the other side of our sorry travels.
Dense. Jumpy. And a few things you might wish you never read. But most of this novel is gripping and, quite sadly so, possibly the truth. If you've read the white man's tales listed above then you really should check this trip out.
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1.0 out of 5 stars A novel? A jumble? A really long book. Sept. 6 2000
A book only for those good at skimming. Where were this woman's editors? There are plenty of good stories in there, sadly, they are overwhelmed by Silko's yen to regurgitate every single thing she knows about thousands of unrelated items, like a messed up and poorly written encyclopedia (or almanac?), and not in the Borgesian sense, more in the long-winded sense.

There are good characters in this book. Unfortunately, Silko also includes their laundry lists, measurements of their teeth, the minutes from the board meetings they attend, their favorite recipes for cornbread...

Characters and story lines are introduced, then abandoned and left to dangle, only to be revisited in the most repititious and taxing prose imaginable. With a few years of editing and rewriting, this tome might yield some decent novellas, an interesting collection of folklore and ethnography, and some dreary journalistic material. As is, it is not some grand, free-flowing, apocalyptic--oh, I forget what the review said--but a big mess disguised as a novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars prettysnake says, sssssuper book Sssssssilko!!!! Sept. 4 2000
Not nearly as complex as some would like to make it. The "land" interacts with people to manifest its spirits. Those who are "cut off" from the land, become alienated and "alien." 500 years is not so long in the grand scheme of things. What is yet to come is what has been before, a people who are shaped by the spirits of the Americas.
Her novel might not make some people "happy." It certainly isn't your romantic "Indian story" (that so many people seem to want). The lives it depicts in fiction aren't far from the convoluted inner workings of some of the indigenous movements here in the Americas (the Zapatista, AIM, etc.) nor from the "cultural elite" who rot in their penthouses in the monuments of Western civilization.
It might not be an "easy" read, but it is certainly an engaging one, and a well-crafted one. Highly recommended.
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