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Almanac of the Dead Paperback – Nov 1 1992

17 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (Nov. 1 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140173196
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140173192
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 4.3 x 21.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #27,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

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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By A Customer on Oct. 22 2000
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on March 22 1999
Format: Paperback
I got this from the library, since Ceremony was such a good and dense book. I tried to like this book from start to finish (2 months later), but I can't help but think the author bit off more than she could chew because it was all too easy to lose sight of basic characters established in the beginning when reading the elaborations on all that is disgusting and yet human (e.g. misogyny, drugs, snuff films, etc.). Another reviewer hit the nail on the head in saying that something good about this book is that it does not glorify all that is Native American, but I think that may be the only good thing. I think that this book would have benefitted greatly had the author collaborated with another writer, I don't care who. Her vision just could not hold this massive idea together long enough to create cohesive text. People are beasts, all people, and they all create history and mythology of some type or another, and all events in time are connected, but is this really a thesis for an epic novel or is it more suited to intellectual study?
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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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